Resign Now, El-Rufai Tells CJN Onnoghen

The Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai has urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen to step down from office.

El-Rufai, who made his views known on a Channels Television Programme, “Sunrise”, said:  ”All the arguments being made that the allegations against the CJN should first go to the National Judicial Council (NJC) are wrong.

“I presented a paper at the Bisi Akande Colloquium on restructuring. I believe that we should look at our federation. Constitutional restructuring is one thing, restructuring our minds to be objective about what is right is another.

“I am extremely sad about this Chief Justice matter; if I am the Chief Justice, and write and say, ‘yes I have these bank accounts but I did not declare them’, I will not even allow the CCB to file charges, I will resign there and then to protect the institution.

“The admission that I did not declare my assets, that infraction alone, is enough for him to step down and protect the institution. All these court orders and lawyers are not helping the judiciary or the legal practice and are not helping Nigeria.”

The governor said it was not obligatory for the President to know about the prosecution of any Nigerian, including the CJN.

He said: “Why should the President know about the prosecution of anyone? Let us please stop personalising institutions. Won’t you be worried if the President is worried about prosecution? Institutions should be allowed to function.

“I am the governor of Kaduna State. The constitution requires that I declare my assets before being sworn in. Also, the constitution states this specifically, in plain language. This is not law; we don’t need law to tell us this.

“I don’t have to know if the Attorney-General of Kaduna State goes and murder or rape someone, and the police arrest him; I don’t need to know. They should charge him to court. Institutions should be allowed to work, and we should stand up to protect the integrity of institutions.

“Saying that the President doesn’t know, I think it is a compliment to the president; it shows that he does not interfere with institutions and doesn’t get involved in it.

“What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong; I think we should stand up for that, we should seize being ethnic and religious, otherwise this country will not go anywhere.

”The man has admitted that ‘I did not declare my asset, I forgot’. If the matter was simply that the Code of Conduct Bureau has made an allegation and filed charges in the tribunal, I will presume innocence, but I have seen a written statement by the Chief Justice saying that ‘…yes I have these accounts, yes I did not declare them, but I forgot’. Forgetting is not a defence in law.

“The constitution is very clear; if the matter has to do with Code of Conduct of public officers, the only court, the only tribunal vested with the power to consider the violations of that code is the Code of Conduct Tribunal. It can try anyone, including the President.

“The NJC is supposed to take petitions on the professional misconduct of Judges; if a Judge kills or steals, it is not NJC, it is the regular court. You cannot say the NJC is a self-appointed court, a special court that will first have to clear judges before they go to regular court.

”It is saying that Judges have immunity that the constitution has not contemplated. It is only the President and the governors that have immunity in the constitution.

“For me, that is not even the issue, the issue is this, the Code of Conduct for public office requires you to declare your assets – all of us, have you declared your assets? Yes! Have you declared all your assets? No, I have not! The Chief Justice has admitted it; his defence is ‘I have forgotten’, that is not a defence in law.”

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CJN Onnoghen: Nigerians Must Fight Corruption At Any Level – BMO

Nigerians must unite and decisively take a stand against corruption, no matter who is involved, the Buhari Media Organisation has said.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, the Secretary, the group noted that the President Buhari administration is undeterred in its resolve to fight corruption at all levels of government, regardless of the position of the person, or any sentiments attached.

The group was reacting to comments made in some quarters over the recent arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“We are aware of the sentiments from various quarters on the arraignment of the CJN, but we are equally worried that there is a mindset in the country that sets certain people to be special. The Chief Justice of the Federation leads Nigerian’s third arm of government responsible for the application of the law, he of all people must lead by example, and thus where there is suspicion as to his conduct, it is only right that the law take its course with him.”

“It is important to remind Nigerians that this Chief Justice is the same person who had, in a statement credited to him, said that wherever Nigerians saw corruption among Judges they should call it out. As long as he has nothing to hide then the law should be allowed to take its course, and this should be the mindset of all Nigerians.”

“In fact, Justice Onnoghen is reported to have admitted to have forgotten to declare some of his  assets. He said he made a mistake, that is embarrassing, to say the least. A man who should know better than any law officer in the country, should appreciate that ignorance is not an excuse in law.”

The  group also argued that in saner climes a chief justice of the country who had previously sat and oversaw cases of other public officials where they failed to declare their assets would have resigned honourably so as not to shame his exalted seat.

“This same Chief Justice has sat down on cases bearing on the declaration of assets by public officials, he had declared some wanting and set others free – like he did to the Senate President – so what is there if he subjects himself to the same procedure he has subjected others to. Moreover, for the sanctity of the profession and the respect for the judiciary, we would have expected that the Chief Justice step down after admitting to making such a profound mistake that casts doubt on his integrity and honesty.”

The group stated that the President Buhari administration was intent and determined to build stronger institutions and would not interfere in the matter. 

“The President does not have a hand in the matter, and would not ask that it should be withdrawn, neither would he endorse it. President Buhari believes that when institutions are tested and left to work independently, they are strengthened. And this is his position.

“President Buhari at every point in time he lost an election, before his eventual victory in 2015, submitted himself to the courts and whatever they decided.”

The group called on Nigerians to attune their minds to supporting the President’s anti-corruption war, and support institutions that were set up to purge the country of corruption in any form, especially in the public life. 

“Nigerians must not look at the anti-corruption fight from a partisan point of view but from one that seeks national development and restoring sanity to the country.”

The group highlighted that, “President Buhari has the political will to fight corruption and must be given all necessary support. He is the only President who has taken on the three arms of government where corruption was alleged, including his own Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who he did not spare but fired, and who is under investigation by the EFCC.”

The group noted that the fact that top Nigerians were being investigated and prosecuted showed that the President was not sparing anyone, whether in high or in low places.

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”I Forgot To Declare My Assets” – Onnoghen

Embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Walter Onnoghen has attributed his failure to declare his assets to forgetfulness.

Onnoghen is scheduled to face the Code of Conduct Tribunal(CCT) on Monday, January 14th for failure to declare his assets after his appointment as CJN.

According to Premium Times, Onnoghen said in a statement made to the CCB that he ”forgot to update his asset declaration, after the expiration of his 2005 declaration”.

The CJN, and Nigeria’s most senior official in the judiciary said he thought that the form SCN 000015 filed in December 2016 was enough to cover for the declaration of his assets.

A group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative filed a petition against Onnoghen for the non declaration of assets.

The group further alleged the CJN of failing to declare ownership of some illegal accounts outside the shores of Nigeria.

The group headed by Denis Aghanya said its petition was necessitated by the closeness of the 2019 elections and the importance of the judiciary before and after the elections.

It said the petition was submitted “bearing in mind the imminence of the 2019 elections and the overwhelming role of the judiciary both before and after the election.”

Onnoghen in his response to the petition said in a statement on Friday, January 11th;

“My asset declaration form numbers SCN 00014 and SCN 00005 were declared on the same day, 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009. Following my appointment as acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my assets anew made me to realize the mistake.

“I then did the declaration to cover the period in default. I did not include my standard charted bank account in SCN 000014 because I believed they were not opened.

“I did not make a fresh declaration of asset after my substantive appointment as CJN because I was under the impression that my SCN 000015 was to cover that period of four years which includes my term as CJN.”

Onnoghen was sworn in as Nigeria’s CJN on the 7th of March, 2017. 

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Chief Justice Of Nigeria Urges Judges To Shun Corruption

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, has urged judges in Nigeria to shun corruption and promote transparency as well as good governance as respect to the rule of law remains the backbone of any democracy.

Onnoghen gave the advice at the 34th Annual Judges Conference in Abuja.

According to him, judges must be prepared to perform their roles with minimum cost to the litigant.

Justice Onnoghen also said ”that matters brought before court must be determined on their merits devoid of external interference to ensure the sustenance of the independence of the judiciary.”

He added that “the Nigerian constitution has vested on judges responsibility bordering on interpretation and enforcement which should conform with the rules of the court and practice direction.”

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President Buhari Charges Judiciary To Speedily Try Corruption And Financial Crime Cases

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Judiciary to designate specific courts to speedily try corruption andfinancial crime cases.

The President said this when a delegation of Judges led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

This was the first visit by the Judiciary to President Buhari since his return from medical leave.

The President gives his thoughts about what the Judiciary can further do to make policies they have put in place concerning prosecuting corruption cases more realistic

He finds also worrying issues concerning prison congestion and how this has impacted on the health of prisoners and the facilities provided for them.

The President on his part pledges to do more to enhance the welfare of Judicial officers through a review of salaries, pointing out that his  government had increased in the 2017 budget, the budgetary allocation to the Judicial arm of government

The Chief Justice of the Federation, on behalf of the Judicial arm, had expressed their joy and relief that the President had gotten over his illness and prayed that he would soon recover to full health.

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Ex Appeal Court President, Ayo Salami Heads FG’s Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee 

Former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retd), has been appointed to head the National Judicial Council (NJC) 15-member Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.

A statement by the Director of Information of the NJC, which is statutorily chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, also named the current President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud and some of his predecessors as members of the committee.

Other members of the committee are Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice P.O. Nnadi; Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Marsahal Umukoro; and Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice M. L. Abimbola.

Others include two members of the NJC, Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN) and Mrs. R.I Inga; representative, non-governmental organisations, representative, Ministry of Justice, representative, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

The Secretary of NJC, Gambo Saleh, will serve as the secretary of the committee.

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New Supreme Court Chief Registrar To Resume Office July 1

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, has announced the appointment of Justice Hadiza Uwani Mustapha as the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court.

Justice Mustapha’s appointment was contained in a Letter of Offer of Appointment signed by the Secretary of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC), Mrs Bilkisu Bashir.

She is set to assume office on July 1st.

The current Chief Registrar, Mr Ahmad Gambo Saleh, would leave office to take on the position of Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the same date.

“Until her appointment, Mrs Mustapha, was the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” the statement said.

Born in Gwoza in Borno State on the 8th August 1961, she holds a Bachelor of Law (LL.B) degree from the University of Maiduguri, which she earned in 1984 before attending the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos, for her Barrister at Law (BL) programme in 1985.

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