The embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has appealed against his conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on charges of violating the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by failing to declare five of his bank accounts bearing huge sums of funds.
Onnoghen filed a 16-ground notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, shortly after the judgment was delivered by the CCT on Thursday.
He insisted, among others, that he did not confess to the alleged offences, as held by the CCT.
“The lower tribunal erred in law when it held that the appellant confessed to the charges framed by admission and use that as a basis to hold that the appellant did not declare his assets from year 2005 when he became a Justice of the Supreme Court and thus occasioned a gross miscarriage of justice,” one of the 16 grounds of appeal read. “The appellant did not admit the fact of non-declaration of assets from year 2005 as Justice of the Supreme Court.
“The appellant only stated that he did not declare in 2009 as required because he forgot and did the declaration immediately it realized same.
“By the evidence of DW1 (first defence witness, Lawal Busari who is Onnoghen’s driver), and Exhibit DW2 tendered, it has affirmed the statement of the appellant that he forgot to make a declaration in 2009 but did in 2010 when he remembered showing there was a declaration after contrary to Count 1 of the charge.”
He also faulted the judgment on the grounds that the tribunal erred it held that the evidence of DW1 did not create reasonable doubt on the evidence of the prosecution witnesses that the appellant did not. make declaration of assets since 2005. He also said the tribunal erred when it convicted him “based on alleged confessional statement, which confession statement did not constitute confession as known to law, as it was not precise, clear and unequivocal as required by law and sustain a conviction.”
Chief Awomolo Adegboyega (SAN) topped the list of lawyers who filed the appealed on behalf of Onnoghen.The rest are Chief Chris Uche (SAN), Chief Okon Efut (SAN), Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN), and George Ibrahim.
They seek, “An order allowing this appeal.
“An order that the lower tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case.
“An order that the charge has become academic.
“An order setting aside the conviction of the appellant.
“An order setting aside the order for forfeiture of assets made by the honourable tribunal.
“An order discharging and acquitting the appellant.”