Crime

FG freezes CJN’s bank accounts, CUPP, NBA condemn action

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The Federal Government has reportedly freezed the five bank accounts belonging to the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), issued the order in a letter addressed to the Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit on  the 14th of January, 2019

A credible source close to the AGF’s office confirmed to that the order originated from Malami.

While addressing a press conference on the issue on wednesday, the first national spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Imo Ugochinyere, shared copies of the said letter available with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.

The letter was seen as signed by Abiodun Aikomo on behalf of the AGF. It instructed that normal banking operations be restricted on the CJN’s accounts domiciled in Standard Chartered Bank, until the conclusion of the case against the CJN at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The directive was given in pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order 6 of 2018.

The letter was titled, “Re: Request for freezing of bank accounts subject to investigation and prosecution pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of July 5, 2018 on the preservation of assets connected with corruption.”

“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 the 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),” the letter read.

“These accounts are as follows: a. Account No. 5001062686 (euro) Standard Chartered Bank (SCB); b. Account No. 5001062679 (pound sterling) SCB; c. Account No. 0001062650 (dollar) SCB; d. Account No. 0001062667 (naira) SCB; and e. Account No. 5000162693 (naira).”

Meanwhile, the CUPP, the Nigerian Bar Association, a former NBA President, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Chief Edward Ashiekaa (SAN) have decried the AGF’s directive that the CJN’s accounts be frozen.

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Agbakoba argued that the AGF could not acceptably rely on the Presidential Executive Order 6 because the charges the CJN was being tried for were about false assets declaration and not corruption.

“It is not proper for the AGF to issue those directives because he is not being tried on corruption charges. He was charged with false declaration of assets,” he added.

“So, for me the AGF has exceeded his power to issue those directives. So I expect that lawyers, of course, will challenge it. The AGF cannot do that.”

Also speaking, Ozekhome said the AGF’s directive is nothing short of a dictatorial government.

He added that, “they showed their clear intentions when they filed simultaneously a motion that he should excuse himself as the CJN. Somehow, the plan backfired on the government because of the unanimous public uproar and rejection that greeted it and the tactical move of Onnoghen’s lawyers who refused him appearing physically in court.”

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