The Court of Appeal in Abuja has once again adjourned the appeals filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen in relation to his ongoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which served as the basis for his suspension.
Backstory: The adjournment was reached after Aliyu Umar (SAN), the prosecuting counsel requested for more time to enable him amend certain papers which had already been filed by the lawyers from the Federal Ministry of Justice and also work out a response to Onnoghen’s fourth appeal.
Continuous Push backs: This is the third time the appeal has been adjourned starting from February 12, 2019. The first adjournment in February 12 was as a result of the three-man panel’s inability to form a quorum. Resuming sitting on February 15, the respondent to the appeals, the federal government, through its lawyer, Oyin Koleosho of the Federal Ministry of Justice, had applied for an adjournment to give the private lawyer prosecuting Onnoghen at the CCT, Umar, time to properly take over the handling of the appeals as directed by Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Salami. Following the most recent sitting, the appeals have now been adjourned to February 27.
Onnoghen’s Appeals: Onnoghen’s first appeal challenges the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the charges leveled against him. While another, challenges the ex-parte order which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on in order to suspend him and appoint an acting replacement in the person of Justica Tanko Muhammed. The third appeal, challenges the CCT’s refusal to be bound by orders from the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court, which directed the tribunal to put a stop to his ongoing trial.
The suspended CJN who had also appealed a warrant for his arrest ordered by the CCT, got his wish after the tribunal withdrew their arrest warrant on February 15, after he made an appearance.
Following a not guilty plea from Onnoghen against six counts of false asset declaration, the tribunal fixed March 11 for further hearing of the pending applications.