The Nigerian government has ordered the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to freeze five bank accounts belonging to Chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen.
“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 Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT/ABJ/1/19,” a letter signed by Abiodun Aikomo on behalf of Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation read.
Five bank accounts are to be frozen: four of them were opened with Standard Chartered Bank, one each for Pound Sterling, dollar Euro and Naira.
The letter did not state where the fifth account, a Naira account, is domiciled.
The Nigerian government is suing the CJN for “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 foreign currencies account which comprised Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.”
Onnoghen was scheduled to face trial at the CCT over the non-declaration of assets on Monday, 14 January. The trial was adjourned to till Tuesday, January 22.
However, Vice president Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari never had any knowledge of a financial misdemeanor involving the CJN until Saturday evening.
“I can tell you for a fact that he did not even know about this (CJN trial) until Saturday evening. I don’t feel good about it that senior members of my profession are being tried,” Osinbajo said.
“Sometimes, it has consequences such as we have today, such that people say, How can such an important person be subjected to trial without the Federal Government?”
“But I can tell you without any equivocation that he (Buhari) was not aware,” Osinbajo said.
He, however, said Buhari had issued specific instructions that anti-graft institutions should be allowed to do their jobs without any interference.