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FG closes case against former CJN Onnoghen after calling three witnesses

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THE federal government has closed its case in the corruption charges filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Thursday, after calling three witnesses.

Onnoghen is facing a six-count charge bordering on false asset declaration, having been accused of failing to declare several bank account which he operates and which FG alleges contains huge sums of money suspected to be proceeds of corruption.

At the resumption of trial on Thursday, the prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, called the third prosecution witness, one Ifeoma Okagbue, whom Umar said would be his final witness, even though he had initially listed six witnesses.

He, however, added that the three other witnesses could still be called to testify if the defence team wants to cross-examine them.

But Onnoghen’s lawyer, Adeboyega Awomolo, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, rejected the offer.  “I don’t need them,” he said.

Speaking further, Awomolo informed the tribunal that he intends to file a no-case submission.

A no-case submission means that the defence is saying that the prosecution had not established a prima facie case against the accused person.

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He prayed the tribunal to direct the registrar to furnish the defence with the record of proceedings that transpired on Monday, March 18 and Thursday, March 21, 2019, to enable him file a written address.

“We intend to take advantage of section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 on no-case submission,” Awomolo said. “If your lordship permits me to write a written address, I’m praying to be given proceedings of 18th and today.”

The tribunal Chairman, Umar, while directing the registrar to avail the defence team the documents it requested for on or before Monday, March 25, also ordered Awomolo to serve his address on the prosecution by Wednesday, March 27.

Umar then adjourned sitting to March 29 for the counsels to adopt their addresses.

Earlier in the day, just before the day’s proceedings commenced, Umar had expressed his disappointment with journalists for publishing misleading reports about the activities of the tribunal, threatening that he would send such reporters to jail.

“You are lucky today. I would have used the full wrath of the tribunal to summon you and put you in prison,” Umar threatened the journalists present in the tribunal on Thursday.

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