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Onnoghen: The Conflict Of Morality Against Interest In The Face Of Nepotism (II) By Amaso Jack

The embattled chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Samuel Onnoghen, has responded to fresh allegation of corruption leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) before the Nigerian Judiciary Council.

Onnoghen has been facing trial after he was accused by the federal government of failing to comply with law in the declaration of his assets.

He described the EFCC petition as mischievous and spurious.

He said the monies found in his accounts were monetary gifts when his daughter got married, insisting that they were not proceeds of corruption.

The EFCC had in a petition filed before the National Judicial Council (NJC) at its sitting on Wednesday, April 3, alleged that Onnoghen received money in his account in 2015.

EFCC further alleged that the money was paid to influence the cases before the Supreme Court since as at the time Onnoghen was on the Supreme Court panel.

Reacting to the allegation in an address, Onnoghen’s counsels said : “In his evidence-In-chief, the respondent explained that the gifts were made at a time of the marriage ceremony of his first daughter, Oremini Nkanu Onnoghen who got married sometime in 2015.

”It was not solicited and remains a part and parcel of the customs and traditions of the people. His Lordship tendered a copy of the wedding invitation which was admitted in evidence without objection by the petitioner as Exhibit R9.

The panel will observe that all the gifts of N250,000, N350,000, N250,000, N300,000 and N100,000 respectively were made within the period of the wedding shown in exhibit R9. From the evidence of the petitioner/prosecution itself, there were no other payments made by those persons or by any other lawyer into the account of the Respondent prior to or after the said period of the wedding of the daughter.”

Onnghen’s counsel also argued that the gifts had nothing to do with the suspended CJN performing his duty as a judicial officer.

The response also read: “Accordingly, no misconduct can be seen or inferred from the unsolicited customary gifts said to be given to His Lordship. It had nothing to do with the discharge of his duties as a judicial offer.

”By Rule 13.5(2) of the Revised Code of Conduct For Judicial officers (Published February 2016) a judicial office is permitted to accept – (i) Personal gifts or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasions as are recognized by custom.

“The statements of three of the persons alleged to have given the gifts which they made to the EFCC are before this committee.

”Nothing in them shows that the gifts were meant to bribe or induce His Lordship in the performance of his duties as a judicial officer. Nothing before this Committee contradicted the statements. It ought to be accepted as the true facts.”

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