Friday, September 24, 2021

Court of Appeal tells Onnoghen: ‘You must face trial at CCT’

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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The Court of Appeal has refused to stay the trial of the suspended chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, in the false asset declaration charges brought against him by the federal government at the code of conduct tribunal.

The appellate court in a unanimous decision in a ruling delivered by Justice Abdul Aboki held that the prayers of Mr Onnoghen that is trial be put on hold, ran contrary to sec 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ACJA 2015.

Mr Aboki who read the lead ruling sited a case of Bukola Saraki in which Mr Onnoghen himself at the Supreme Court declined to stay trial of Mr Saraki on the same ground that Section 306 of the new law did not permit the stay of criminal trial.

The appeal court said that there were no special circumstances under which the prayer of Mr Onnoghen could be granted in the appeal argued on his behalf by Wole Olanikpekun.

In the ruling, the appeal court agreed that the prayer of the appellant for stay of further proceedings ought to be refused, and consequently dismissed the appeal, seeking to stop the Code of Conduct Tribunal from taking further steps in the six count false asset declaration charges filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal headed by Danladi Umar had on January 14 ruled to hear all motions that arose in the charges against Mr Onnoghen together and give decision on the motions.

But Mr Onnoghen, having been dissatisfied with the decision of the tribunal to hear all motions together had approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the decision of the tribunal.

His appeal was predicated on the ground that the issue of jurisdiction raised against his trial ought to be resolved one way or the other first before any other motion could be entertained.

The Interim order granted by the court of Appeal on January 24th has therefore been vacated in compliance with section 306 of ACDA.

It will be recalled that the tribunal on January 28th adjourned the trial of Onnoghen sine die as a mark in which the Mr. Kumar said “was out of respect to the court of Appeal interim order”.

The federal government on January 14 sought to arraign Mr Onnoghen at the CCT on false declaration of asset but it could not hold due to the absence of the defendant in the tribunal, who was said not to have been summoned.

On the January 22, he was also not in court for the second time, but his lead counsel told the tribunal that although his client had been served as required by law, he was not there because he challenged the competence of the charge against him as well as jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Meanwhile the court has fixed February 4 for the substantive appeal related to the competence of the charge as well as the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

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