Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, on Friday, pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge the Federal Government levelled against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Onnoghen, who mounted the dock at exactly 10:15am, equally persuaded the Mr. Danladi Umar led tribunal, to vacate the arrest warrant that was issued against him on Wednesday
The federal Government had in the charge marked CCT/01/2019, alleged that Onnoghen who was suspended from office on January 25 by President Muhammadu Buhari, failed to declare his assets as prescribed by the law.
He was accused of operating foreign bank accounts since 2011, contrary to section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. Onnoghen had on four previous dates, declined to appear before the tribunal which he contended lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the charge against him.
Consequently, the tribunal, ordered key security agencies in the country to arrest Onnoghen and produce him for trial. The tribunal specifically directed the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Service, DSS, to execute the arrest warrant.
However, the order was not carried out as the suspended CJN, voluntarily appeared before the tribunal to enter his plea to the charge.
During Friday’s proceedings, Justice Onnoghen refused to sit down on the seat provided by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar.
At first, Umar instructed that Onnoghen should be offered a seat. But after few minutes, he realized that him (Onnoghen) was still standing and asked him directly to sit on a seat in the dock.
“My Lord, sit down”, he said, but Onnoghen replied him, and said, “I will use the seat when I need it”.
Shortly after his arraignment, Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, applied for his client to be granted bail on self recognizance. The application was accordingly granted by the CCT Chairman. c