CCT trial: Onnoghen faults prosecution documents, alleges mutilation, tampering, omission

The embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, Monday faulted the documents stacked against him for prosecution at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, alleging they were in loose form, tampered with while some pages were omitted.

The faulted documents are the CCB asset declaration forms 001 of 2014 and 2015 respectively.

These observations were declared by the defence counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, following the presentation for confirmation of the documents for admission as exhibits by the tribunal.

Earlier led in evidence by the prosecution, Aliyu Umar, SAN, the witness, James Akpalla, Senior Investigation Officer of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, narrated how the petition against Onnoghen emanated and extent of investigation done so far.

Akpalla said, “The petition against Onnoghen was written by Dennis Aghanya and was received in my office on January 9, by the Receiving Officer, Awwal Usman Yakassai.

“And I was directed by Simeon Madujumu, my superior, to investigate the petition who happened to be a member of the investigation team.

“Having done the required processes, a case file was opened and investigation plan drawn.

“The team includes Abu Simeon, deputy Director of Investigation and Monitoring, Samuel Madujumu, Assistant Director, Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring and myself, James Akpalla.

“The petitioner was invited and his statement was recorded.

“Then, on January 10, having examined the forms, the team wrote to the Standard Chartered Bank Ltd, requesting for the defendant’s statement of account, account opening document and certificate of identification. The bank responded.

“During examination, the team realised that the account opening package were incomplete. So, the team notified the account officer, Ifeoma Okagbue.

“She came on March 6, with the complete account opening package. And her statement was recorded.

“On the same day, the team visited the defendant, Onnoghen’s office in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja.

“We met his Secretary who ushered us inside his office after introduction.

“We introduced ourselves and the Deputy Director, Abu Simeon, explained the purpose of our visitation and, handed over to the defendant an introduction letter signed by the CCB chairman, Prof. Mohammed Isah.

“We explained the petition to the defendant and handed over to him a copy of the petition. He gave an oral explanation and later put it in writing which he signed and counter-signed by his Secretary as Witness”.

Also, prosecution counsel Aliyu showed the documents to the witness for recognition and confirmation which he subsequently identified and admitted to be same before the court.

But when the defence counsel, Awomolo was shown the same documents, he took it to Onnoghen in the defendant box.

Onnoghen pointed out certain observations, which Awomolo declared before the court.

He said, “The forms have been tampered with somehow.

“Asset declaration forms have been tampered with in the sense that they are in loose form, mutilated and some pages are omitted.

“We have reservations but we shall address the tribunal later.”

Besides, Awomolo also challenged the documents from the Standard Chartered Bank, saying the Witness was not the appropriate person to tender the two bank statements because he was neither the maker nor signatory to the documents.

He added that it was the account officer Ifeoma Okagbue who has the right to tender such documents.

He also affirmed that the witness couldn’t be cross-examined on the said documents and that if he has any role, at all, it was to tender it and, nothing more.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, the Witness said, “I have no idea if CCB has central register for all submitted asset declaration forms from 1993 to date.”

It was at this juncture that the tribunal panel excused themselves to observe prayers.