Court Halts Trial of Justice Onnoghen at CCT

Justice N. E Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday halted the arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government had, through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) slammed a six- count charge, bordering on non declaration of assets and operating a domiciliary foreign accounts against the CJN.
Justice Onnoghen, who was to be arraigned on Monday did appear at the Tribunal on the ground that the CCT lacks the jurisdiction to try him on the criminal charges preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who is leading 44 other Senior aadvocates of Nigeria and 55 other lawyers in the defence of the CJN informed the three-member panel of the Tribunal headed by Danladi Yakubu Umar that the defendant was not before the Tribunal Monday on the ground that he was not served personally with the criminal charges as required by law.
Olanipekun said the CJN has filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to entertain the matter.
Meanwhile, Justice Maha, while ruling on the two separate ex parte applications, shortly after the Tribunal had adjourned till January 22, 2019 for the arraignment of the CJN, ordered parties to maintain status quo till January 17, 2019.
The Judge ruled that the defendants should be served with all the court papers filed and that they that they should appear in court on the 17th January, being the next adjourned date for the hearing.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2019 was filed by Incorporated ‎Trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative and the Incorporated Trustees of International Association of Students against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Federal Judicial Services Commission, CJN and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) were filed before Justice Maha while arraignment of the CJN was being expected before the CCT.
The prosecution counsel at the CCT, Aliyu Umar (SAN), who argued that service was effected on the CJN said, the registrar of the court informed him that the CJN directed his personal secretary, one Sunday O. to accept service on his behalf.
But, Olanipekun had insisted that, in a criminal charge, service must be made personally on the defendant.
Umar, in conceding to the defectiveness of the service, urged the court to redirect service on the defendant with a directive that the service be made personally on the CJN.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the matter till January 22, 2019 or the arraignment of Onnoghen and the hearing of all applications relating to the matter.
Count one of the charge read: y“That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON between June 8, 2005 to December 14, 2016 being a public officer, serving as a Judicial Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria failed to declare and submit a written declaration of all your assets and liabilities within the prescribed period of (3) months after being sworn-in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the 8 day of June, 2005 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act”.
In counts 2 to 6, Onnoghen, was accused of falsely declaring his assets by omitting to declare funds in his domiciliary accounts as well as an e-saving accounts both in local and foreign currencies.

Author: News Editor

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