Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has directed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to freeze the accounts belonging to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, following the six-count criminal charges filed against him by the Federal government.
In a letter dated January 14, 2019, the AGF directed the director-general of NFIU to freeze the accounts of the CJN pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order N0.6 of July 5, 2018 on the preservation of assets connected with corruption.
The said letter with reference number HAGF/2019/E06/vol.01 reads in part: “I am directed by Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to request that you, pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 2018, forthwith restrict normal banking operations on certain accounts belonging to the Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT/ABJ/1/19: Federal Republic of Nigeria V. Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel).
When contacted on the matter, the Senior Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of Nigeria on Media, Awassam Baasey, said he was not in a position to confirm or deny the existence of such a letter as he was not aware of it.
“I have been in the office since morning but I am not aware of such a letter. I can´t confirm the existence of such a letter because I don’t want to speculate. I don’t know; maybe it was served on the CJN personally, I can’t confirm because I have not seen it,” Bassey told our correspondent. Meanwhile, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice could not be reached to confirm whether indeed the letter emanated from the office.
The Senior Special Assistant to the AGF on Media, Salihu Isah, could not be reached when our reporter called his mobile line. He equally did not respond to the text message sent to his mobile line.
Besides, the non-declaration of his assets, Justice Onnoghen is also being accused of maintaining domiciliary foreign currencies accounts which comprised Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.
He has been asked to immediately vacate his exalted office as head of the nation’s judiciary over alleged sundry asset declaration issues.
The decision for his arraignment followed a petition dated January 7, 2019, addressed to the Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau.