The Federal Government has asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, to immediately vacate his exalted office as Head of the Nation’s judiciary over alleged sundry asset declaration issues.
In a move to force Justice Onnoghen out of office, the Federal Government will on January 14, 2019 arraigned the CJN before the Justice Danladi Yakubu-led Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on charges of failure to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Domiciliary Accounts.
The charge, sighted by PRNigeria against Justice Onnoghen, has already been filed and served on him on Friday at his official residence in Abuja, preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal.
The Federal Government among others is accusing Nigeria’s Head of the Judiciary of refusal to declare his assets in breach of the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
He is also being accused of maintaining domiciliary accounts made up of Dollars, Pound Sterling and Euro Accounts, which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.
Justice Onnoghen, whose appointment suffered unprecedented delay by President Muhammadu Buhari over undisclosed issues, may be the first CJN in Nigeria to be arraigned for criminal charges by the Federal Government.
Apart from putting the Chief Justice in the dock on Monday, PRNigeria learnt that a motion on notice is to be filed against him, praying the tribunal to order him to vacate office and recuse himself of the office so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who sought anonymity, has been engaged by the Federal Government to lead the onslaught against Justice Onnoghen, while PRNigeria could not ascertain the names of those who will lead the defence team for the CJN.
It was gathered that eminent lawyers have volunteered to put their services at the disposal of Justice Onnoghen in the bid to rescue him from the claws of the government.
It would be recalled the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was in 2015 shortly after he emerged the head of the legislature arraigned at the tribunal.
But the charges against him were quashed and he was discharged and acquitted by the tribunal on the ground that the charges against him by the government were based on hearsay that could not stand in the face of the law.
Saraki’s discharge and acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court under the leadership of Justice Onnoghen.