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CCT trial: FG  tenders evidence, Onnoghen alleges declaration forms tampered with

THE Federal Government has tendered the first sets of exhibit for the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal court on Monday. 

The exhibit tendered by the FG through its witness, James Akpala (a senior investigation officer of the Code of Conduct Bureau), comprises different documents that included the petition that led to the six-count charge preferred against the suspended CJN.

The petition was admitted as evidence and marked as exhibit one for the case.

The others were the two assets declaration forms (Forms CCB1) submitted by Onnoghen in 2014 and 2015.

Before the evidence was admitted, the defence counsel  led by a senior advocate Adegboyega Awomolo indicated that the declaration forms were “in loose form and appeared to be tampered with”.

Onnoghen said the forms he filled in 2014 and 2015 were no longer the way he submitted it to the CCB.

“We have some reservations on the documents, we will not object in the interest of  justice but we have reservations that would be addressed at the end of the day,” Awomolo added concerning the asset declaration forms.

James Akpala, who presented the exhibits, during his testimony explained how the CCB referred a petition from the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Research-based Initiative authored by one Denis Aganya  against the Onnoghen to him and two others on January 10, 2019.

Akpala said: “On January 9, 2019, I was in my office that morning at the Code of Conduct Bureau that morning when i received a call from my superior, Samuel Major….

“He directed that I investigate a petition. Having done the required processes ─ routine investigation ─ case file was opened and investigation plan was drawn.” And Akpala added the  investigation was concluded on January 11, when the team’s report was prepared.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel,  the witness was asked whether he was aware that the charges against the justice, list of witnesses, and proof of evidence, were prepared, dated and signed by the prosecutor on January 10, prior to the conclusion of his investigation. Akpala declined though confirmed the dates he was confronted with the documents.

Answering another question under cross-examination, Akpala denied the claim that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was involved in the investigation of Justice Onnoghen.

When confronted that the bank statements he claimed he obtained from a commercial bank were addressed to the EFCC, he declined further comment.

After listening to the arguments and testimonies, the Tribunal adjourned further hearing till Thursday. This is  to enable the prosecutor subpoena the account officer to Onnoghen and allow the suspended CJN appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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