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Appeal Court To Hear Onnoghen’s Suit Today

The Court of Appeal will today in Abuja, hear the matter brought by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, against his arraignment  before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

A three-man panel of the Appellate Court, led by Justice Abdu Aboki, after hearing preliminary submissions from lawyer to the CJN, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) and Emmanuel Omonuwa, Director Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice (for the respondent – the Federal Republic of Nigeria), on Tuesday adjourned to Thursday.

The court adjourned principally for the hearing of a motion on notice, filed by the CJN, for an injunction restraining the CCT from conducting further proceedings in respect of the charge against him pending the determination of the appeal.

The CJN’s appeal, which has the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the sold respondent, is challenging the order made by the CCT on January 14, this year, for the hearing of two pending applications.

One of the applications filed by the prosecution is seeking to compel the CJN to vacate office pending the conclusion of his trial. The other application, which the CCT planned to hear today, is filed by the CJN. It is challenging the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

When the appeal was mentioned yesterday afternoon, Awomolo identified the various sets of documents filed on January 18, this year, by the appellant, including a motion ex-parte, motion on notice for injunction and a notice of appeal.

Awomolo, who led a number of senior lawyers, including Sebatine Hon (SAN) and Mahmoud Magaji (SAN) for the appellant, said the respondent was served on January 18.

He said since the respondent was represented in court, the judges could do away with the hearing of the motion ex-parte and proceed to hear the motion on notice.

Responding, Omonuwa sought a short adjournment to enable him respond to the motion on notice. He said he needed three days to file a counter affidavit.

When asked to respond, Awomolo said it was within the right of the respondent to be allowed to respond to a motion served on him.

Awomolo said he was not objecting to Omonuwa’s request for adjournment.

He, however, prayed the court to order parties to maintain status quo and refrain from taken steps, in respect of the charge before the CCT, pending the next date, a request Omonuwa objected to.

Omonuwa said there were already three subsisting restraining orders made by three High Court, restraining the CCT from proceeding with the hearing of the charge against the CJN.

The Federal Government has said that it will not seek arrest of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for failing to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Speaking in the court, prosecution lawyer, Aliyu Umar SAN, said government would not demand for the arrest of Onnoghen for failing to appear before the tribunal even though Paragraph 6 of the CCT Practice Directive empowers it to do so.

The Federal Government had filed a 6 count criminal charge bordering on failure to declare his assets against the CJN.

Onnoghen was scheduled for arraignment last week, January 14 but the arraignment could not take place due to improper service of the charge on the CJN, forcing the tribunal to adjourn till today.

Onnoghen, citing improper service was not present in court on January 14, the earlier scheduled date for his arraignment. But in the last one week, three different courts and the National Industrial Court, Abuja had given orders restraining the CCT from going ahead with the trial.

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