January 30, 2019
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered temporary stay of proceedings in a suit filed by suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen seeking stay of execution on his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
A three-man panel led by Abdul Aboki gave the order after hearing from all parties involved in the suit.
The court also adjourned its main ruling on the said appeals till January 30.
According to the Court, the nature of the charges levelled against Onnoghen warrants that proceeding at the CCT continues.
The decision by the appeal court comes one day after the National Judicial Council gave Justice Onnoghen seven days to respond to allegations of false asset declaration.
The CJN described the case instituted by the Code of Conduct Bureau as “unconstitutional and lacking merit”. But the Appeal Court declined the initial request, saying it would decide on the application after hearing from parties regarding the case.
Since the Appeal hearing, the trial at the tribunal has since started and Justice Onnoghen was absent on both occasions that the case had come up.
Onnoghen had approached the court, arguing the CCT had no jurisdiction to preside over the case.
The federal government is prosecuting Onnoghen at the CCT for alleged false assets declaration.
The Court of Appeal had on 24 January ordered a stay of proceedings on the trial of Walter Onnoghen.
Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had approached the court praying for an order restraining the CCT from proceeding with Onnoghen’s trial pending the determination of an application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed a six-count charge against Onnoghen bothering on allegation of non-assets declaration.
At the resumption of the trial on Jan.14, the arraignment of the defendant was stalled as his team of counsel claimed he was not properly served with the notice of summons.
However, on the following adjourned date, being Jan. 22, the tribunal was prepared to commence the trial when it had established that the defendant had been properly served with the notice of summons.
The process was stalled again with the absence of the defendant and a motion brought by Olanipekun urging the tribunal to restrain itself from continuing with the trial.
The defendant’s counsel had brought to the knowledge of the panel of three subsisting restraining orders from High Courts in Abuja barring it from continuing the trial.
Olanipekun had also insisted that the defendant’s motion challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to handle the matter should be treated first before any other proceeding could happen.