CCT to resume Onnoghen’s trial February 4

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has fixed February 4 for the resumption of hearing in the charges filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

The CCT’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Ibraheem Al-Hassan, disclosed this in a press release on Thursday.

Onnoghen is facing six counts of false asset declaration filed against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

The tribunal had earlier adjourned sitting in the matter following an interim order of the Court of Appeal which ordered it to stay proceedings.

By the Court of Appeal on Wednesday reversed the interim order by refusing to grant the interlocutory injunction sought be Onnoghen.

The court said section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act had barred the court from stopping a criminal matter.

The release said the tribunal fixed the new date after receiving a letter from the CCB.

“The decision was reached today(Wednesday) sequel to a correspondence from the Code of Conduct Bureau, applying for the resumption of trial of the case captioned ‘Application for resumption of trial of the case of FRN Vs. Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel case No: CCT/ABJ/01/19, addressed to Hon. Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal, dated 30th January, 2019, jointly signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali (Esq).’

“The above subject refers. This case came up for hearing of preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal on the 28th of January, 2019 but the Tribunal could not proceed due to the pendency of the case at the Court of Appeal.

“However, in the wake of this afternoon, 30th January, 2019 the Court of Appeal has thrown out the appeal.

“Consequently on the above, we urge the Honourable Tribunal to give us a date for resumption of the trial subject to the convenience of the Tribunal, Most obliged my Lord.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress has said the refusal of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, to stop Onnoghen”s trial has vindicated President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President had suspended Onnoghen last Friday and sworn in Tanko Muhammad in acting capacity based on an ex parte order of the CCT.

The action drew criticisms from opposition political parties and lawyers who felt the independence of the judiciary was being eroded.

The appellate court while ruling on Onnoghen’s application for a stay of proceedings had said the charges were criminal in nature and could not be stopped.

In a statement on Thursday, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the ruling had vindicated the President.

The statement said, “The APC had in the wake of the suspension insisted that the rule of law be upheld and allowed to thrive while Justice Onnoghen submitted himself to the law.

“The Appeal Court’s ruling has further advertised the credentials of President Buhari as an unrepentant believer in the rule of law, due process and justice. Contrary  to claims by the opposition and a section of the Nigerian Bar Association that the suspended CJN is a victim of persecution and that the law is not being followed in his arraignment, the Appeal Court has now confirmed that Onnoghen’s trial at the CCT is indeed within the confines of the law.

“His suspension is therefore not prejudiced as being painted in some quarters since it was based on an order lawfully issued by the CCT.

“The suspended CJN had adjudicated on many cases where he ruled that only the CCT is exclusively empowered to entertain cases on asset declaration. It may be tempting for a weak and self-serving leader to ignore these legal precedents, but not President Buhari. He is ever truthful, fearless, fair and just and a stickler for rules.”