2—Vanguard, TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2019 CCT trial: I drove Onnoghen to CCB to submit asset declaration forms— Witness •As suspended CJN opens defence, lines up 3 witnesses By Ikechukwu Nnochiri A BUJA—THE suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday, opened his defence to the allegation that he failed to declare his assets as prescribed by the law. Onnoghen kick-started his defence to the allegation, following the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja that he has a case to answer with regards to the six-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him. Federal Government had in the charge, alleged that Onnoghen’s failure to properly declare his assets, was in violation of section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. The Danladi Umar-led three-member panel tribunal had in a ruling last Friday, declined to discharge and acquit the defendant, insisting that he has explanations to give with respect to the allegations. Federal Government had earlier closed its case after it called three witnesses that testified before the CCT. Consequently, sequel to directive of the tribunal, the embattled CJN, said he would also call three witnesses to establish his innocence. In his Evidence-in-Chief, the first defence witness, DW- 1, Mr. Lawal Busari, a driver at the Supreme Court, told the tribunal that he was the one that drove the defendant to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, the day he collected his asset declaration form. Led in evidence by Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, the witness, said: “On July 28, 2010, my lordship called me to take him to the CCB office at Asokoro. When we got there, he collected asset declaration forms. After the form was given to him, he said Alhaji, are you not collecting your own? “He said, collect it, and I did. We came back to the office, I filled my own too. On November 4, 2010, he gave me N200 to pay for the asset declaration form. The second day, I did my own too and paid the cashier N200 at the FCT High Court.” Though the prosecution counsel, Mr. Aliyu Umaru, SAN, opposed the tendering of the receipt in evidence, he was however, overruled by the tribunal. The CCT chairman admitted and marked the receipt as an exhibit in the trial. Continuing his testimony, Busari said: “After payment at the FCT High Court, we went and submitted the form, my self and your lordship, at Asokoro office of the CCB. It is a woman, fair in complexion that received the form. I cannot remember her name, but she received both forms. “The form was not acknowledged that day. The woman said we should come back to collect the acknowledgment copy.” The witness said he, subsequently, went back to the CCB alone and collected the acknowledged form. Under cross examination, the prosecution counsel queried Busari if he was reading from a piece of paper. Upon the admission of the witness that he was indeed holding a piece of paper in his hand, the tribunal chairman, demanded that the paper should be brought to him. After the CCT Chairman had read through the paper, the prosecution counsel requested that it should be returned back to the witness. Asked who wrote and gave him the paper, the witness said: “ My Lord I wrote it myself. It is my hand writing and it contained facts about me.” Application by the prosecution to tender the paper in evidence was not opposed by the defence lawyer. It was, therefore, admitted in evidence and marked it as exhibit 7. He described Justice Onnoghen as a good man, saying he was attached to the defendant as a driver when he was still a Justice of the Court of Appeal. Meantime, Justice Onnoghen has persuaded the tribunal to issue subpoena to compel a Director at the CCB, Mrs Theresa Nwafor, to appear as his second witness. The proposed witness is currently serving at the CCB office in Edo State. Mr. Umar, therefore adjourned the case till Wednesday to enable the witness to appear and give evidence in the trial. Awomolo alleges interference by executive Meanwhile, lead counsel to the CJN, Awomolo, SAN, had alleged interference of the executive arm of government in the proceedings before the CCT. In a statement after the proceeding, Awomolo said: “A situation where the Executive arm is the custodian of the Code of Conduct for public officers, the enforcer of the Code of Conduct through the tribunal. It is the appointing authority of the members of the tribunal. In the proceedings in the tribunal, the executive is the accuser, the investigator, prosecutor, the witness and the judge, all roll together into one. “This is unacceptable under the constitution that guarantees independence of the three arms of government. There is urgent need for Constitutional reform. CONSUMER PARLIAMENT: From left, Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission; Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye, Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC; Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC during the 87th edition of Telecoms Consumer Parliament, in Lagos, yesterday. Reverting State House Medical Centre to clinic, presidential directives —Perm Sec By Johnbosco Agbakwuru A B U J A — PERMANENT Secretary, State House, Mr Jalal Arabi, yesterday, told the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs for the 2019 budget defence that the plan to revert the State House Medical Centre to a clinic, which it was the directive from President Muhammadu Buhari. Speaking before the Senate committee, the Permanent Secretary disclosed that “without prejudice to what is currently obtainable at SHMC, the intention to revert to a clinic is a presidential directive. This is to make sure that the facility is functional and serves the purpose for which it was established, ab initio.” Later, Arabi explained to journalists after the budget defence that the reversion of the centre to a clinic was a case of “cutting one’s coat according to your cloth.” In a statement by the Deputy Director, Information, State House, Attah Esa, Arabi said: “It was initially meant to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the villa. “The overstretching of facilities at the medical centre by patients is some of the challenges the centre have been going through. It wasn’t meant for that purpose. “Nobody was charging anyone for any services and relying on appropriation means we will depend on subvention when it comes to run the Centre." Senate uncovers illegal company floated by Trade and Investment Ministry By Henry Umoru ABUJA— THE Senate, yesterday, disclosed that it had uncovered a Special Economic Zone Company listed for N42 billion appropriation from the 2019 budget proposal by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. The Senator Sabo Mohammed (APC Jigawa North West) led Senate Committee on Trade and Investment explained that following the discovery of the illegal company, it became imperative for the Senate to reject the N15.633 billion 2019 budget proposals the ministry tabled before the committee for approval. The alleged Economic Zone company reared its head when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelama, appeared before the committee, yesterday, for budget defence session, just as he presented a booklet containing 2019 budget proposal for all agencies under his ministry. Trouble started when immediately he presented his report, Chairman of the committee then referred him to item 2 on page 7 of the booklet, which has N42.091 billion budgetary allocation for Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company not known to be one of the 17 agencies under the ministry. Responding, the minister told the committee that the company was established through presidential initiative and approval given to it at cabinet meeting in May 2018 He said: “One of the areas that this government has focused on is infrastructure. The second area is industrialization and the two have something in common. “If the government tries to do it alone, it would be extremely tasking. So the President directed that we should bring other partners that can combine with whatever monies we have to build world class infrastructure which led to the establishment of the company in partnership with other investors.” But when he was further asked to tell members of the committee, owners of the company, the minister said the Federal Government and other shareholders to which the committee chairman proved him wrong. According to the chairman of the committee, a document obtained by them from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, containing information on how the company was registered, shows that the company’s name is Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited and not Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company listed in the documents presented by the Minister. He said: “Ownership of the company as clearly stated in the document obtained from CAC on the 26th of last month designated as Directors are Dr Bakari Wadinga, Mr Olufemi Edun and Ms Oluwadara Owoyemi." El-Zakzaky: Blood'll triumph over bullets —Shi’ites By Luminous Jannamike ABUJA — ISLAMIC Movement in Nigeria, IMN, yesterday, restated its resolve to secure the release of Sheikh Ibraheem El- Zakzaky, the sect’s leader, who has been in detention since 2015, saying blood will triumph over bullets. Members of IMN also known as Shi’ites, spoke during the 2019 matyrs’ day celebration by the group in Abuja. Speaking at the event, Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, Head of IMN’s Shuhada (Martyrs) Foundation, said: “We are here to peacefully honour our brethren who have been killed over the years because of their spiritual inclinations as we have consistently done. “However, this year’s event, which in the 28th in the series, is coming against a backdrop of an astronomical increase in the number of our departed heroes, especially with an increase of over 50 members killed by the elite Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army during the 2018 Arbaeen Trek in Zuba. We strongly believe that blood will inevitably triumph over bullets at the end.” Prominent Islamic scholars at the event include: Sheikh Yakubu Yahaya Katsina, Sheikh Abdullahi Zango and Professor Abdullahi Danladi among others. The occasion was followed by a massive free El- Zakzaky protest, which shut down parts of the Federal Capital Territory for several hours, yesterday.
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