Court Stops FG From Freezing Onnoghen’s Accounts

Former CJN, Walter Onnoghen
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has stopped the federal government from freezing the accounts of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The order came as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday reiterated its call on the federal government to withdraw the charges of non-declaration of assets filed against Onnoghen as the embattled CJN is due to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) today.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday failed to hear the three appeals filed by the embattled CJN.
The presiding judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, ruled that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) cannot freeze bank accounts of Justice Onnoghen without first obtaining a court order authorising the freezing.

The judge gave the order while ruling on an ex parte application filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEAP) against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the AGF and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

In the order, which was given last Friday, the judge ruled: “That the AGF shall first obtain an order of court (ex parte) before freezing the accounts of Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel (in respect of Exhibit B) in compliance with the law if, it was not obtained.

“That where it is shown that the order of court was obtained before the freezing of the accounts contained in Exhibit B, the freezing order shall remain valid.
“That order to be served on the respondents pending the hearing of the motion on notice.
“That the matter is adjourned to 13th day of February 2019 for report/motion on notice.”

Last month, the federal government, through the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), gave a directive to NFIU to freeze five bank accounts of Onnoghen, pending the final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

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