The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has scheduled Thursday, April 18, to deliver its final judgment in the alleged false declaration of asset case brought against Justice Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, by the Federal Government.
Danladi Umar, the CCT Chairman, reserved the date for judgement after listening to the final addresses of the defence and prosecution counsels.
Aliyu Umar led the prosecution, while Okon Efut spoke on behalf of the defence team.
In his submission, Efut said when the suspended CJN’s declaration that he forgot to fill his asset declaration form was not a confession and cannot be held against him.
According to him, confession in law is not straight forward, as writing that he forgot did not amount to an admission of guilt.
He also faulted the charge for not following the element of an offence as created by the law.
Efut argued that the prosecution had failed to substantially prove that Justice Onnoghen committed a crime.
Umar, however, disagreed with the defence team, stating that the prosecution had proven that the accused had committed infractions of all six charges preferred against Justice Onnoghen.
He stated that the defence team was only trying to exploit the law when asking for “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
He further noted that the statement by justice Onnoghen that he forgot, is an admission of the offence.
Delivering his ruling, the CCT Chairman said the verdict would be delivered along with two pending rulings on Onnoghen’s applications, one challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the case and another one asking the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from further presiding over the case for being allegedly bias.
A mild drama, however, played out before the tribunal chairman reserved the date for judgment as Umar, the lead prosecuting counsel, engaged in a verbal argument with another member of his team, Zainab Duke.
The drama began when Umar, who was announcing the appearance for the prosecution, was apparently interrupted by Duke, who had attempted to speak.
Umar, however, refused to let her speak, saying: “Sit down, I am leading.”
Following the verbal tangle between both lawyers, Umar, the CCT Chairman intervened and asked for both individuals to settle their differences.
“Only one counsel can speak for the team,” the CCT chairman said.
A police officer moved to give a microphone to Duke to speak but Umar snatched the microphone.
Umar said: “She wants to address the tribunal but I have not given her permission to do that.”
Subsequently, the lead prosecuting counsel applied to the tribunal to have the name of Duke, a professor, struck off the case.
In his ruling on the matter, the CCT chairman said Duke should “take her leave or take her seat at the back bench.”
After Umar’s ruling, Duke left the court room.