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The federal government, through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has requested the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to freeze five bank accounts of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, pending the final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
But Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari only got to know about the planned arraignment of Onnoghen, at the CCT on Saturday.
Osinbajo’s claim was repudiated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which said Buhari knew much more than his deputy was telling Nigerians.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), which made public the communication from the AGF to NFIU on the freezing of CJN’s accounts, also raised the alarm over the safety of Onnoghen in the hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government, as well as moves to confiscate his assets and freeze his bank accounts for allegedly refusing to compromise the composition of the post-general election appeal tribunals.
In a letter addressed to the Director of NFIU signed by one Abiodun Aikomo, on behalf of AGF, the justice minister said the request to restrict normal banking operations in the five accounts was in line with the Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of July 5, 2018.
The letter with reference number HAGF/2019/E06/Vol. 1, was titled, ‘Re: Request for freezing of bank accounts subject to investigation and prosecution pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No. 06 of July 5, 2018, on the preservation of assets connected with corruption.’
Malami’s letter, which was dated January 14, 2019, was also received and acknowledged by the NFIU on the same date.
Part of the letter reads, “I am directed by Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to request that you, pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order No. 06 of 2018, forthwith restrict normal banking operations on certain accounts belonging to Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, pending 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 Walter Samuel)”.
The letter listed the five accounts to include: Account No. 50010626886 (Euro) in Standard Chartered Bank (SCB); Account No. 5001062679 (Pound Sterling, SCB); Account No. 0001062650 (Dollar, SCB); 0001062667 (Naira, SCB); and Account No. 5000162693 (Naira).