The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) case
against the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was triggered by a petition from a civil rights group, Anti-Corruption And Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI).
A CCB investigator, Mr. James Akpala, said in an affidavit in support of the charges against Justice Onnoghen that the filing of the case stemmed from a petition against the CJN.
Akpala was silent on the name of the petitioners.
He merely said: “I know as a fact that the Head Office of the Bureau received a petition alleging that the CJN failed to declare his assets according to the law.”
ARDI describes itself as “a whistleblower and Anti-Corruption Awareness disseminator, whose effort is to strengthen our democracy and ensure transparent, accountable and responsive governance devoid of corruption for our society.”
It is run by Dennis Aghanya, who served as a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari between 2009 and 2011.
Aghanya was also the pioneer National Publicity Secretary of Buhari's defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) on whose platform Buhari contested the 2011 presidential election.
The ARDI petition dated January 7, 2019 was received two days later by the CCB, according to online publication, The Cable, shortly before the news of the impeding trial of Onnoghen broke yesterday.
The civil society group said its petition was necessitated by “the imminence of the 2019 General Elections and the overwhelming roles of the Judicial Arm both before and after.”
It claimed that Onnoghen owns “sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.”
It alleged that Onnoghen made five cash deposits of $10,000 each on March 8, 2011 into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650; two separate cash deposits of $5000 each and four deposits of $10,000 each on June 7, 2011.
Five similar cash deposits of $10,000 followed on June 27, 2011, and another four deposits of $10,000 each the following day.
Onnoghen, according to the petition, failed to declare his assets immediately after taking office, contrary to section 15 (1) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act; and that he did not comply with the constitutional requirement for public servants to declare their assets every four years during their career.
It added that the CJN appeared “to have suppressed or otherwise concealed the existence of these multiple domiciliary accounts owned by him, as well as the substantial cash balances in them.”
It said the CJN’s financial transactions appeared suspicious and not justifiable by his lawful remuneration at all material times.