I just want to point out a few matters in relation to alleged false declarations and statements by Public Officers.
Taking about ‘rule of law’, The courts in Justice Nganjiwa’s case have upheld that a judicial officer is not to be treated like a common criminal. There must be a formal petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and after it has been actioned will agencies of government take off from there. The reason for this clearly is to uphold the sanctity of the judiciary. A serving judicial officer cannot be subjected to criminal prosecution without being tried by the NJC: Nganjiwa v. FRN (2017) LPELR-43391CA
Similarly, The Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution which provides for the Code of Conduct for Public Officers has 2 relevant paragraphs.
(a) Paragraph 3 prohibits a Public Officer from operating an account outside the Country. It does not prohibit operating an account in foreign currency in Nigeria. Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with opening and operating a domiciliary account.
(b) Paragraph 11 mandates a Public Officer to declare all his properties, assets and liabilities every 4 years and the end of his tenure – 11(1).
Paragraph 11(2) provides that any statement in the declaration found to be false by any authority or person authorised to verify the statement or declaration shall be deemed a breach of the Code.
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that it is only authority or person authorised to verify the statement or declaration that can find it to be false, the question is what really amounts to a false declaration in respect of assets like bank accounts.
My considered view is that the asset that needs to be declared is the bank account and not the money in it, simply because the nature of bank accounts is that they fall or grow depending on the spending pattern of the account holder. Since the mandatory Constitutional provision is to make a declaration every 4 years, it is not every time you put money in an account that you must declare it. You are only required to declare every 4 years.
Equally importantly, since it is the existence of the bank account that must be declared, a declaration of one bank account in Nigeria, which is BVN linked, is a declaration of all the other bank accounts. This is because by virtue of BVN, any bank account that you have is automatically disclosed whenever you disclose even one of those accounts.
Since it is the asset that you are required to disclose, and not the contents, the amount in the other accounts is irrelevant. In any event, by disclosing the account through BVN you have disclosed the contents of the account. Note that an authority and authorised person is required to verify the declaration before it can be said to be false, and part of the verification process will require that person to check all BVN linked accounts.
Also, one may argue that the CJN was not obliged to make a new declaration upon attaining the office of Chief Justice because he remains a Justice of the Supreme Court and is only primus inter pares. Even if I am wrong, and that is for the Courts to interpret, he was certainly not required to make a declaration on being appointed as acting CJN because paragraph 11(1) requires a declaration only after” taking office”. He does not take the office of CJN when he is in an acting position, he is still in his substantive position of Supreme Court Justice and is required to make a declaration only every 4 years.
Yes, the CJN is not immune from prosecution but The CJN is not just a judicial officer for crying out loud; he is the head of the Judicial arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria . This is not like Saraki’s case. Here the law as it is today has made clear procedures for the discipline of judicial officer so Why can’t laws be obeyed in this country? If the CJN has erred, follow the rules to get him accountable, SIMPLE!!! This is unfair to the Democratic principles of Nigeria. Laws should be followed!
There is no justification for this embarrassment to the legal profession. These people are prepared to rig the 2019 elections and it’s now clearer that There will be no free and fair election and they know PDP will challenge the outcome even to the Supreme Court. Clearly with CJN Walter there heading the court, they know he would not play ball. So the best way to “Laying the foundation “ is to take him out NOW!!
It’s annoying when I see this nonsense! To see someone who has suffered in this difficult country to rise to the level of CJN being embarrassed by some bloody politicians is depressing. ???
I will be so SAD if the Bar keeps mute at this. Same for the political leaders of the South. Enough of this Impunity in the name of fighting corruption.