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Drama as Onnoghen accuses FG of tampering with assets forms

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Drama as Onnoghen accuses FG of tampering with assets forms

The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJan) Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has alleged that agents of the Federal Government tampered with his Assets Declaration Forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

He made the claim at his resumed trial yesterday at the CCT.

The said documents include CCB Assets Declaration Forms of 2014 and 2015.

The first prosecution witness, James Akpalla, a senior investigative officer with the CCB, sought to tender the said documents in support of his evidence against Onnoghen during yesterday’s proceedings.

When the documents were shown to the defendant, however, Onnoghen, through his counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, told the tribunal that a careful look at them showed that they had been tampered with.

According to him, the 2014 form “has become loose, part of it mutilated and has become blue in a way.”

Awomolo stated that a similar observation was made in the 2015 form with duplications and omissions of some pages. “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,” he said.

Akpalla, in his evidence in chief, told the tribunal that the CCB on January 10 referred a petition written by the Anti-Corruption and Research Database Initiative to his team for investigation.

The witness added that on the strength of the petition signed by one Chief Dennis Aghanya, he visited Onnoghen in his office at the Supreme Court, where a cautionary statement was obtained from him, while letters were also written to the Standard Chartered Bank for account details of the defendant with the bank.

He further held that the following day, January 11, the bank responded, prompting the investigating team to conclude their enquiry and prepare their report.

Under cross examination, the witness informed the tribunal that he did not know whether the CCB has a central registry and register where returned assets forms are deposited and registered.

While responding to another question, the witness told the tribunal that investigation into the petition against Onnoghen was concluded within 24 hours.

Drama however ensued when Awomolo confronted the witness with the charge against Onnoghen, proof of evidence, list of exhibits and witnesses, which were all dated January 10, when investigation into the petition had not been completed.

Also, when the witness attempted to deny the involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the CCB investigation, Awomolo confronted him with yet another set of documents from Standard Chartered Bank addressed to the EFCC but tendered by the witness.

At this point, the witness said he was not aware that the charges against Onnoghen were filed before the completion of the investigation and consequently declined further comments on the bank’s document addressed to the EFCC.

In the course of the proceedings, the petition against Onnoghen, two documents from his bank, his cautionary statement and the two assets declaration forms he once submitted to the CCB were admitted as exhibits by the tribunal.

Meanwhile, hearing on the matter has been adjourned till March 21.

It is expected that on that adjourned date, the account officer to Onnoghen, already summoned by the tribunal, will appear in relation to the documents submitted to the CCB.

Prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, had earlier asked the court to subpoena the bank official after Awomolo had opposed tendering the bank document on the ground that since the witness did not author or sign the document, he could not tender it as an exhibit before the tribunal.

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Autonomy for Judiciary has no alternative – Out-going Kogi CJ

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Autonomy for Judiciary has no alternative – Out-going Kogi CJ

By Friday Idachaba

Out-going Chief Judge of Kogi, Justice Henry Olusiyi has said that there is no alternative to the total independence and autonomy of the Judiciary if the third arm of government must discharge its functions creditably.

Olusiyi disclosed this in his speech at the valedictory court session held in his honour on his retirement as the Chief Judge of the state at the High Court complex on Monday in Lokoja.

The Chief Judge held that the Judiciary had the duty of ensuring that every citizen of the country lived a life of dignity and not deprived of “right to life” guaranteed to him under the Constitution.

“In a country which professes to follow the Rule of Law and the principle of Separation of Powers, there is no alternative to a totally Independent judiciary.

“All the three arms of government: The Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are expected to and must work together for achieving the goals set out in the constitution. There must be harmony between the three arms.

“The doctrine of Separation of Powers as enshrined in our Constitution is to ensure checks and balances among the three arms of government to avoid the abuse of power and the risk of one arm wielding absolute power to the detriment of the other arms.

“The rule of law is the fabric that holds society together. Any breach of the rule of law is a potential danger for the sustenance of law and order in the society. Court orders should be respected and complied with as a matter of course”, he said.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ibrahim Mohammed (SAN) said the tenure of the Chief Judge, though short, was eventful as he was leaving with his footsteps in the sand.

Mohammed said that during the brief period of six months the Executive Arm of government in the state enjoyed a cordial relationship with the Judiciary under Justice Olusiyi.

Usman O. Sule (SAN), representing the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), said, posterity would be kind to Olusiyi as a forthright, fearless and independent minded Judge who delivered his judgements without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

Sule said the jurist had always ensured and showed that parties who appear before him go home happy with sound result of fair hearing, fair trial and sound judgement.

Mr Sam Owoyomi, chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lokoja branch, who spoke on behalf of other branches in the state described Olusiyi as a child of destiny who had fulfilled destiny.

He said that the Out-going Chief Judge was honest, bold, courageous, incorruptible, impartial judge of great characters and erudition.

Owoyomi urged the authorities to ensure full autonomy was granted the Judiciary.

Pioneer Chief Judge of the state, Justice Umaru Eri (rtd), the Grand Khadi of the state Sharia Court of Appeal, Justice Abdulkareem Aruwa and Justice Sunday Otu, delivered goodwill messages at the occasion.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Olusiyi retired whose judicial career started in 1980 retired today, January 11 on attainment of the mandatory 65 years of age. (NAN)

FDJ/

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Another big win for Obaseki as court quashes certificate forgery case against him

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Another big win for Obaseki as court quashes certificate forgery case against him

Governor Godwin Obaseki has again triumphed over his traducers as they failed to prove the certificate forgery case against him
This is as Federal High Court in Abuja, on Saturday, threw out the certificate forgery case the All Progressives Congress, APC, and one of  its members, Mr. Williams Edobor, instituted against him.
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, held that the Plaintiffs, failed to by way of credible evidence, discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law.
Justice Mohammed insisted there was no iota of evidence before the court to establish that Obaseki forged either his O’level certificate or the degree certificate that was awarded to him in 1979 by the University of Ibadan.
He held that allegation of forgery the Plaintiffs levelled against Obaseki bordered on crime and therefore required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

“None of the witnesses called by the Plaintiffs was able to prove that the certificate was forged as alleged.

“In fact, the witnesses admitted that none of them visited the University of Ibadan to confirm the authenticity of the certificate.

“The Plaintiffs only relied on photocopies that were attached to the Form EC9 the 1st Defendant submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission”, the court noted.
It held that apparent discrepancies in the documents Obaseki submitted to INEC, “were satisfactorily explained”
Obaseki against all permutations had won the 2020 Edo Governorship election even after he was forced to dump his party APC for the PDP few weeks to the election.

He defeated his main rival Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the election with a wide margin.

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Kogi CJ charges new judicial officers to be guided by Justice

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Kogi CJ charges new judicial officers to be guided by Justice

By Friday Idachaba

Chief Judge of Kogi, Justice Henry Olusiyi has inaugurated 10 newly appointed Magistrates and Area Judges with a call on judicial officers to be guided by the Oath of Office they take and Justice.

Olusiyi who made the call at the inaugural ceremony of eight Magistrates and two Area Court Judges in Lokoja on Friday said the event of oath-taking was a solemn one that should not be taken lightly.

“The Oath you have just taken is not a thing to be taken lightly. So, I charge you to be guided by the oath you took. You took the oath on the basis of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible as the case may be. So, these two instruments should be your guide.

“An Oath is binding, an Oath is irrevocable, an Oath is irreversible and that is why you did not do it inadvertently, you do it with seriousness.

“Oath taking is not an empty practice, its not a casual thing, its a thing that should be taken seriously if we take our oaths seriously then we will take our jobs seriously and we will be committed”, he said.

Olusiyi wondered how many public officers sit down, even for one day, to take a look at the oaths they took, to see if they were living or working in line with their oaths.

He therefore urged that the oath should be a constant reminder of their duties saying, “My dear Magistrates and Area Court Judges, be guided by the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom and you need wisdom to discharge the functions of this office.

He commended them to the words of their oaths and the Holy Books for constant guidance saying that the work of adjudication was a divine one with which God had entrusted them.

“God is the ultimate judge and we have been given the rare privilege to judge our fellow human beings. So, by that, it has put us in the class of God. Let us be constantly mindful of this fact.

“You are an ambassador of God. Do not allow yourself to be compromised by any interest. The only interest that should guide you is the interest of Justice”, added.

Olusiyi reminded the newly appointed judicial officers that Justice was about discovering the truth and that they should be guided by the truth adding that Justice was not a luxury as access to Justice remained the inalienable right of every citizen

“Access to Justice is a means of enforcing the Fundamental Rights of citizens and this can only be done through the courts. Courts that are manned by legally trained officers”, he said.

Olusiyi who was full of gratitude to God, the state Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and his brother judges said the judicial officers were carefully selected to fill some vacancies and gaps.

Speaking on behalf of the newly appointed judicial officers, Mr Joseph Ajesola (Chief Magistrate I) thanked the Chief Judge for finding them worthy of the appointments.

He pledged not to do anything that could tarnish the image of the Judiciary with a promises to make constant reference to the oaths taken.

The new judicial officers include Eleojo Audi, Chief Magistrate I; Rekiya Amehadaji, Senior Magistrate I; Owonibi Olayemi, Magistrate II; Avazi Ohunene, Senior Magistrate II; Salihu Rafatu, Magistrate I; Ademu Fatima, Magistrate II and Ipinera Sunday as Senior Magistrate I.

Albert Agada, appointed as Magistrate II and who would have made the ninth magistrate was however absent at the inauguration while the two Area Court judges are Olusegun Abosede, Senior Area Court Judge I and Olowosegun Lucy, Senior Area Court Judge II.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chief Judge used the occasion to announce the confirmation of the Acting Chief Registrar of the state High Court, Mr Augustine Ayinmiro as the substantive Chief Registrar of the state High Court. (NAN)

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