My Asset Declaration Forms Were Tampered With, Says Onnoghen

The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has alleged that the two asset declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) have been tampered with.

Speaking through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, at his resumed trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Monday, the suspended CJN said the forms he submitted in 2014 and 2016 were mutilated and in loose form.

The Federal Government had produced its first witness, Mr. James Opala, a Senior Investigation Officer of the CCB to testify against the suspended CJN Onnoghen, who was accused of failing to declare his assets.

Opala, who is the star prosecution witness, was a member of a team of investigators that uncovered the alleged infractions in asset declaration forms the CJN submitted before the CCB.

The Federal Government, through the witness, tendered the first set of exhibits it said would establish allegations it levelled against Onnoghen at the CCT.

But before the asset declaration forms were admitted, Onnoghen, through his lawyer insisted that the Form 001 he filled in 2014 and 2015 were no longer the way he submitted it to the CCB.

He queried why the hitherto bound documents appeared “in loose form” before the tribunal, alleging that it was tampered with, with some of the pages missing, and that the CCT would be addressed on the issue.

However, Akpala narrated how the bureau responded to a petition from the Centre for Anti-Corruption Initiative, signed by one Denis Aghanya, on January 10.

He said his team got a statement from Onnoghen and applied for his account details with his bank, while the team concluded the investigation within 24 hours.

While being cross-examined, Akpala declined comment on if he was aware that the charges, evidence and witnesses against Onnoghen were prepared and signed on January 10, the same day the petition was signed, which was even before the conclusion of the investigation on January 11.

He also said that he was not aware if the bureau had a central registry and register where all returned forms were stored.

Also, Akpala refused to comment when he was shown that the financial statement he said he got from Onnoghen’s bank was addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), having denied earlier that the anti-graft agency was involved in the investigation.

The CCT later adjourned till Thursday to allow Onnoghen appears before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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