The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ordered the suspension of the Acting Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Azinge Azuka.
According to a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Friday night, Ms Azinge is to remain on suspension pending the conclusion of her trial on charges bordering on the breach of the code of conduct for public officers.
The CCT spokesperson, Ibraheem Al-Hassan, signed the statement.
According to the statement, in an ex-parte ruling on Tuesday, the CCT ordered the Minister for Trade and Industry to appoint a replacement for Ms Azinge.
Mr Al-Hassan said the ruling was based on a motion by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), which is the agency prosecuting Ms Azinge before the CCT.
According to him, Mrs Azinge was arraigned before the tribunal on December 23, on an 11-count charge marked: CCT/ABJ/03/2019, in which she was accused of concealing her naira, euro and dollar domiciliary accounts in Access Bank Plc and Standard Chartered Bank.
Count one of the charges reads; That you, Lady Azuka Obiageli Azinge, on or about 17th of July, 2017 whilst being a Director at Corporate Affairs Commission and thereby a public officer in the Service of the Federal Government of Nigeria, failed to submit a written declaration of your assets and liabilities four years after you declared your Assets in form CCB1 NO: CACOOO603 on the 17th July, 2013, you thereby contravened the provisions of paragraph 11 (1)(a) of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered and punishable under paragraph 18 (1) and (2) of the fifth schedule of the same Constitution.
Count two: “That you, Lady Azuka Obiageli Azinge, whilst being a Director and Serving as Acting Registrar-General at Corporate Affairs Commission and thereby a public officer in the Service of the Federal Government of Nigeria on or about 9th of April, 2019 did make a false declaration of your Assets in from CCB1 N0: CACO00713 by omitting and refusing to declare Domiciliary (US Dollar) AccOunt No: 0001586293 maintained with Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria (Ltd) which has been in operation since 6th of May, 2005 and you thereby commit an offence Contrary to Paragraph 11(2) of Fifth Schedule Part 1 to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as altered and punishable under paragraph 18 (1) and (2) of the fifth schedule of the same Constitution.”
Ms Azinge is also accused of receiving allowances she was not entitled to as an acting Registrar-General of the CAC.
She pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to her on December 23.
The tribunal then fixed January 29, 2020, for the commencement of her trial.
Rather than wait for the trial, however, the CCB, apparently eager to get her out of office, approached the court for an ex-parte order.
On Tuesday, the tribunal heard and granted the prosecution’s ex-parte request, Mr Al-Hassan said.
An ex-parte order is one granted a requesting party in the absence of the other party to the suit. In this case, Mrs Azinge’s counsel was not notified or represented when the order was granted.
A similar controversial order was what was used to oust the former chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, a move condemned by the appeal court.
Ruling on the ex-parte motion suspending Mrs Azinge, the CCT ordered: “that defendant/respondent steps aside, as the Acting Registrar General of Corporate Affairs Commission, over allegation of contravening provision of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP C1 LFN 2004 pending the hearing and determination of Motion on notice dated on the 17th day of December 2019.
“That the Hon. Minister of Trade and Industry and the Chairman of the Board of Corporate Affairs Commission, is to appoint a replacement pending the hearing and the determination of the motion on notice, dated and filed on the 17th day of December 2019.
“That the matter is hereby adjourned to the 6th day of January 2020, for the hearing of the motion on notice, dated 17th day of December 2020, “the statement added.