CCT Insists Onnoghen Must Appear in Court Physically
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on Monday adjourned till February 13, the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The adjournment was sequel to an oral application by counsel to Onnoghen, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN.
Onnoghen is yet to be arraigned on a six count charge bordering on nondisclosure of his assets preferred against him by the Federal government.
The tribunal had last Friday fixed Monday February 4 for the arraignment of the suspended Chief Justice as well as the hearing of all pending applications, shortly after the Court of Appeal in Abuja, dismissed Onnoghen’s motion on notice seeking a temporary stoppage of his trial at the tribunal, pending the determination of his suit challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
When the matter was called, Prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar SAN, informed the court that the matter was adjourned to today for arraignment and hearing of two motions, one on preliminary objection to jurisdiction of the CCT and one filed by the prosecution asking for an order for the CJN to step aside.
However, defence Counsel, led by Awomolo, drew the tribunal’s attention to the fact that the same petition forwarded to the Code of Conduct Bureau by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has been forwarded to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Awomolo said since the NJC has sent the same petitions to the defendant to reply within 7 days which will lapse on Wednesday, February 6, it is in the interest of Justice to allow NJC take a decision before continuing with the proceedings at the tribunal.
Prosecution counsel, however, said he was not opposed to the application for adjournment.
In a short ruling, tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar adjourned the matter till February 13 for the arraignment of Onnoghen and the hearing of all pending applications.
He however urged the defence team to ensure that the defendant physically appeal in court at the next adjourned date, adding that “plea must be taken before the defendant can raise any objection regarding the case”.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal, Abuja, has adjourned till February 12, hearing in the three different appeals filed by the suspended CJN.
When the matter came up Monday, Chief Chris Uche SAN, who led three other Senior lawyers for Onnoghen, informed the appellate court of the decision by both the appellant and the respondent to have the three appeals heard together, so as to save the time of the court.
Uche told the 3man panel justices of the appellate court that he had already written a letter to the presiding Justice, Abdul Aboki, dated January 30, praying the court to determine the three appeals together and that the Federal government as a respondent agreed to the position.
Counsel to the Federal government, Oyin Koleoso, confirmed that the two parties have agreed that the three appeals be heard together.
Justice Stephen Adah, subsequently adjourned hearing in the matter till February 12, in view of the urgency of the matter.