Appeal Court Dismisses Onnoghen’s Suit Against Trial

Appeal Court Dismisses Onnoghen’s Suit Against Trial
Walter Onnoghen

Appeal Court Dismisses Onnoghen’s Suit Against Trial

Appeal Court Dismisses Onnoghen’s Suit Against Trial

A Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, seeking to halt his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over asset declaration.

Essentially, Onnoghen sought to stop the tribunal from arresting, arraigning and trying him on the six-count charge brought against him by the Federal Government.

The presiding Justice Abdul Aboki, in his ruling on the matter, dismissed the appeal and declared that the trial of Onnoghen at the CCT should proceed.

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The Court of Appeal had earlier urged the CCT to stay proceedings in the trial of Onnoghen pending the outcome of the application before it. The three-member panel of the court granted an interim order filed by the embattled CJN, after listening to submissions from parties in the application.

Related: Onnoghen’s Suspension Has No Connection With Presidential Election! Says FG

A ruling on the application for temporary order was delivered by Justice Abdul Aboki who said: “This ruling is adjourned till Wednesday January 30. The tribunal is ordered to stay all proceedings.”

Justice Onnoghen, in the suit, prayed the court to grant the stay until the determination of the appeal against the order of the tribunal made on January 14.

The CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, had declined to obey court orders restraining him from proceeding with the trial. He explained that section 246 of the constitution makes it very clear that the tribunal has unquantified jurisdiction to hear any assets declaration case as may be referred to it by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

He also disagreed with the request to adjourn the trial sine die on the ground of a pending appeal at the Court of Appeal.

According to him, section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, does not make provisions for stay of proceedings in a criminal matter and in the instant case, it shall not be entertained. The tribunal declared all the orders for stay of proceedings null and void. The decision of the CCT sparked some protests in Abuja.

At the resumed sitting of the CCT on Monday, the tribunal adjourned proceedings pending the determination of the case at the Court of Appeal.

The verdict of the Court of Appeal yesterday may now give direction to a date for the continuation of proceedings at the tribunal.

Meanwhile, The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) faulted the position taken by the embattled Onnonghen that he should first be tried by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The northern group said Onnonghen could not sit as a judge over his own case.

According to a statement by its Secretary General, Anthony Sani, the ACF, at its meeting held on Tuesday said it could not defend Onnoghen’s insistence that he should first be tried by the NJC, of which he is chairman, as doing so would have allowed him to sit in judgment over his own case.

“ACF deeply regrets the conduct of Justice Onnoghen, particularly his refusal to step aside and allow the due process of the law to take its course. He has created the impression that his personal interests in this matter supercede that of the judiciary and the nation.”