By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, convicted the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on all the six-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him.
As part of its sentence, the Mr Danladi Umar-led three-man panel removed Justice Onnoghen as both the CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Besides, the CCT banned Justice Onnoghen who had voluntarily resigned on April 4, from holding any public office for the next 10 years.
It equally ordered that all the monies that were found in five bank accounts that he allegedly failed to declare as part of his assets, be forfeited to FG.
Mr Umar who read the judgment held that Onnoghen’s failure to explain how he amassed “huge amounts of money in his accounts”, was an indication that the funds were acquired illegally.
Earlier before the judgment was delivered, the panel, dismissed two preliminary objections the former lodged to challenge the legal propriety of his trial.
Mr Umar held that the CCT had the requisite jurisdiction to try the ex-CJN on the allegation that he falsely declared his assets.
He maintained that FG did not violate any portion of the law by bye-passing the National Judicial Council, NJC, to file the charge.
Mr Umar said the tribunal was minded to overrule itself by departing from the position it took in a similar case the government instituted against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court.
The CCT held that sections 158(1) and Paragraph 21(6) of the Third Schedule to the1999 Constitution, as amended, was not applicable in the case since FG did not charge the former CJN as a serving judicial officer, but as an ordinary public officer that acted in breach of the code of conduct for public officers.