Nigeria’s former top judge appeals graft conviction | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:46 AM, April 20, 2019

Nigeria’s former top judge appeals graft conviction

Nigeria’s former most senior judge who was found guilty of graft charges has appealed his conviction, his lawyers said yesterday.

Former chief justice Walter Onnoghen was banned from holding office for 10 years by an ethics court on Thursday in a case the opposition said was politically motivated.

Onnoghen was tried for failing to divulge cash in five foreign bank accounts in contravention of rules governing the declaration of assets by public officials.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT)also ordered the seizure of the funds in the accounts since the embattled judge could not justify how he acquired the money.

“In a notice of appeal filed at the Registry of the CCT, shortly after the judgment, Onnoghen raised 16 grounds on which he faulted the decision and urged the Court of Appeal to set it aside and discharge and acquit him,” a member of his legal team told AFP.

“The appellant is urging the Court of Appeal to hold that the CCT lacked the jurisdiction to hear the charge and that the tribunal ought to have recused itself from the trial,” he said.

Onnoghen wants the appeal court to set aside all the orders made by the tribunal in the judgment, including that for assets forfeiture, he added.

No date has been fixed for hearing the appeal.

After Thursday’s ruling, Onnoghen’s lawyer Okon Efut said the process had not been fair.

He decried what he called the “unconstitutional” suspension of the judge in January, claiming it was the first step in what he said was a “premeditated” decision.

“Judgment had been passed before today,” Efut said.

“Justice has not been done today but it will be done tomorrow -- if not by the tribunal or by our court, justice will be done by God,” he added.

Onnoghen was suspended from his post as the country’s top judge by President Muhammadu Buhari just weeks before elections in February.

The move prompted claims Buhari was trying to manipulate the judiciary.

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