A Bank Verification Number (BVN) search may have exposed more accounts linked to the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Detectives are understood to have written three banks for details of the alleged accounts of the suspended CJN.
The banks are Standard Chartered Bank, Union Bank and Heritage Bank, according to a preliminary report on the activities of Onnoghen by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and other agencies.
The CJN is accused of false declaration of assets. A six-count charge has been filed against him.
Further investigation into Onnoghen’s accounts notwithstanding, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the European Commission (EU) yesterday urged caution on the part of the federal government in its handling of his case.
The US called for due process to be followed in the matter while UK faulted the timing of the suspension.
Sources knowledgeable about the investigation of Onnoghen’s finances revealed to The Nation yesterday the turn-over in the alleged accounts of the CJN as follows:
USD account from October, 2012 to September, 2016 — $1,922,657.00
GBP (£) account from 2012 to September, 2016 — £138, 439.00
Euro account as at September 30, 2016 — €55,154.00
Naira account from September, 2005 to October, 2016 — N91, 962.362.49
A document sighted by The Nation correspondent states: “Upon receipt of the report, a preliminary investigation was conducted during which the following actions were carried out:
“A request was sent to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) for a report on the suspect.
“A letter of investigation activities was sent to Standard Chartered Bank, Union Bank and Heritage Bank to provide the statements of accounts of the suspect;
“A BVN search through the NIBSS platform was conducted on the suspect and six (6) more accounts were found to be linked or connected to the suspect;
“The statements of accounts of the suspect were analyzed and further to that, a letter was written to Standard Chartered Bank requesting for additional information on suspicious activities in the account.”
There was anxiety yesterday over alleged restriction on the movement of Justice Onnoghen.
Security was tightened at the official quarters of the Justices of the Supreme Court.
Journalists were turned back from gaining access to the quarters in the three arms zone.
A reliable security source said: “Yes, the security around the quarters was enhanced but I doubt your insinuation of restriction of movement of the CJN.
“With the tension generated by the suspension of the CJN, security agencies are only taking pre-emptive action to prevent the judges from harm.”
There were also strong indications last night the battle over Onnoghen’s fate would shift to the court tomorrow.
A counsel in the defence team of the CJN said: “We will go to court to challenge the illegal suspension of His Lordship.
“We hope the Federal Government will respect any court order reinstating the CJN. Anything otherwise is a judicial anarchy.”
We’re concerned — US
Reviewing the Onnoghen saga, the US Embassy said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that Washington was “deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.”
It added: “We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates, and political party leaders to ensure that the elections proceed in a way that is free, fair, transparent, and peaceful – leading to a credible result.
“We urge that the issues raised by this decision be resolved swiftly and peacefully in accordance with due process, full respect for the rule of law, and the spirit of the Constitution of Nigeria.