The driver of suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, yesterday gave evidence as the first defence witness in the ongoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The witness, Alhaji Lawal Olanrewaju Busari, who was led in evidence by Onnoghen’s lead counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), told the tribunal that he is a chief driver/mechanic at the Supreme Court of Nigeria and he has been the driver of the defendant since 1999.
He gave evidence of how he drove Justice Onnoghen to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in 2010 to obtain his assets declaration forms.
“On July 28, 2010, my lord called me that we should go to the office of CCB at Asokoro. When we got there, he collected the asset declaration form. After collecting he asked me if I wasn’t going to collect mine. I collected and filled mine too.
“On November 3, 2010, my lordship gave me N200 to go and pay for asset declaration at the FCT High Court revenue office. I paid to the cashier and I returned the original receipt to my Lord,” he said.
When the receipt was sought to be tendered in evidence, the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN) objected to its admissibility.
However, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, overruled the objection and admitted the document as Exhibit D2.
Continuing with his evidence, the witness said after the payment at the FCT High Court, he and Justice Onnoghen submitted the asset declaration forms at the office of the CCB in Abuja. He said they were not given acknowledgement receipt by the CCB on the day they submitted the forms.
“The woman that received the forms from us told us to come back and collect the acknowledgement forms. I went back alone. A man went inside and check until he found mine and handed it to me,” the witness added.
The prosecution, however, objected to the admissibility of the acknowledgement receipt when it was sought to be tendered on the ground that the document was not relevant to the trial.
While the defence counsel was attempting to explain the relevancy of the document, the tribunal chairman interjected and said: “Let’s save ourselves the stress and time, this document is not relevant to this proceeding and it is hereby marked rejected.”
Subsequently, the witness confirmed that he and Justice Onnoghen returned their completed assets declaration forms to the CCB office in Asokoro.
He also confirmed that the two forms were received from him and Justice Onnoghen at the CCB office in Asokoro.
He also confirmed that he went back to pick his own acknowledgment of the receipt of the form.
Under cross-examination, the prosecution asked if the witness was looking at a piece of paper while giving evidence and the witness said, “Yes.”
The witness further said that the writing on the paper was his own and that it relates to the evidence he gave.
The paper was tendered as evidence by the prosecution and without objection from the defence, the tribunal admitted it as evidence.
The witness said he didn’t go to the CCB with the defendant in 2005 to collect assets declaration form upon his (Onnoghen’s) elevation to the Supreme Court.
Earlier, upon an application by Awomolo, the tribunal ordered that a subpoena be issued and served on one Mrs. Theresa Nwafor, a director in CCB (Edo), who the defence said they intend to call as a witness.
The tribunal ordered that Mrs. Nwafor must appear before the tribunal on Wednesday, which has been fixed for the continuation of the trial.