CCT Chairman, Umar Orders Day to Day Trial of Suspended CJN, Onnoghen

The Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, on Monday unilaterally ordered day to day trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
He consequently fixed Tuesday for continuation of the trial even without consulting the prosecution and defence lawyers.
Besides, Umar ordered that proceedings against Onnoghen shall be conducted on a day-to-day so as to ensure speedy trial of the charges.
This was after he reserved rulings in the two motions of Justice Onnoghen.
Umar, in a short ruling, invoked section 296(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act to arrive at his conclusion, adding that in line with the provisions of the law, ruling in all motions shall not be delivered until the final judgement of the main matter.
One of the motions is challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the criminal charges brought against him by the federal government.
Also defferred is ruling in another motion in which Onnoghen prayed for the disqualification of the Umar from participating in the trial on account of demonstrated bias.
The CCT Chairman announced that rulings have been reserved and shall be delivered along with the substantive suit.
This followed the submissions on motions by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) counsel to Onnoghen.
Earlier, the suspended CJN insisted that the CCT has no jurisdiction to proceed with the six count charge brought against him by the federal government.
Onnoghen told the tribunal that as a serving judicial officer, it is the National Judicial Council (NJC) that is vested with powers to entertain any misconduct against him.
In a motion dated January 14, 2019, Onnoghen through his counsel, prayed the tribunal to strike out or dismiss the entire charges against him for want of jurisdiction.
Awomolo, cited sections 34 and 292 of the 3rd scheduled of the 1999 constitution as grounds that the CCT has no requisite power to deal with erring judicial officer without first resorting to the NJC.
He said the powers of the NJC are superior to that of the Code Conduct Bureau when it comes to the issue of judicial Officer, adding that in line with section 292, the NJC must first indict a judicial Officer before any Judiciary measure can be taken.
In the second application dated January 31, 2019 and predicated on section 36 of the 1999 constitution, Onnoghen demanded that the Chairman of the tribunal recuses or disqualify himself from further participating in the trial on the grounds of likelihood of bias.
The defendant claimed that Umar had demonstrated sufficient bias against him in the conduct of proceedings and that it would be in the best interest of Justice for the CCT boss to step aside from the proceedings.
Onnoghen stated that in the instant case, the executive arm of government where Umar belongs to is the complainant, investigator, prosecution and the judge contrary to the provisions of the law.
Responding, counsel to the Federal government, Aliyu Umar (SAN), however urged the tribunal to dismiss Onnoghen’s application on the grounds that the application lacked merit.
The matter was adjourned till Tuesday.

Author: News Editor

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