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Onnoghen Must Appear in Court to Take Plea Before Any Application, CCT Insists


The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Monday, ruled that the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen to appear before it on February 13, the next adjourned date.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar ruled that the Onnoghen must appear in court on the adjourned date to take his plea before any application from him could be entertained.
Earlier, the tribunal refused attempt by both the prosecution and defence teams to adjourned the case, pending the determination of the matter before National Judicial Counsel (NJC).
When the case was mentioned for hearing, yesterday, a defence counsel, Adegboyegba Awomolo, told the court that the same petition over which Onnighen is standing trial at the CCT, was before the NJC and should be stepped down until when the NJC would have finished with the matter.
The prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, also agreed with the submission of the defence team.
However, Chairman of the tribunal, Umar, disagreed.
He insisted that the matter must go on. This resulted in a lacuna.
Umar later stood down the matter for 30 minutes to give a ruling.
At resumption, a member of panel, Atedze Agwaza apologised on behalf of the tribunal for the earlier refusal to grant adjournment. “I apologised over what has happened and behalf of the chairman, I promised it will never repeat itself again. You know the pressure this matter is generating, you know we are still in the learning process,” Agwaza said.
Umar in his part also apologised for the misunderstanding.
He adjourned the matter at instance of both parties to February 13
He said: “The presence of the defendant is needed at the tribunal. Plea must be taken before raising any objection to challenge the tribunal’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter. I will like to see the defendant on the next adjourned date,” he said.
Justice Onnoghen was arraigned on January 14 on four-count of non declaration of all his assets.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, who led over 45 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to defend Onnoghen, had faulted the competence of his trial before the CCT on the premise that the Federal Government failed to allow the NJC to investigate the allegations against him, before it proceeded to prefer a criminal charge against him.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari later suspended Onnoghen based on ex-parte motion from the CCT.

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