CJN Onnoghen: What happened in CCT Monday
By George Okpara
The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Monday was unsettled over legal fireworks bordering on its jurisdiction to handle allegations stacked against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had brought allegations against the CJN, saying he did not declare details of his asset upon his assumption of office besides the operation of foreign accounts involving foreign currencies.
Consequently, Onnoghen was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari and made to appear before the CCT for trial.
However, the adjournment that fell due today was basically to entertain the applications filed by the defence counsel, Adegboyega Awolomo, challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT.
While handling the legal qualification of the tribunal, Awolomo insisted that the tribunal has no jurisdiction in law to try a serving judicial officer in the capacity of Onnoghen.
He also cited the case of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, saying sometime ago, the Federal government had charged him with certain allegations to be tried by CCT but it was subsequently dismissed because CCT declined jurisdiction.
In his words, “My Lord, we humbly hereby submit that CCT has no jurisdiction to handle this charge preferred against Onnoghen. It is not a criminal case involving bribery or forgery but a matter of non-compliance which usually should be handled by the National Judicial Council, CJN.”
Further, Awolomo cited section 292 to buttress his case, saying the provision of the 1999 constitution says only the NJC can try any case of misconduct involving a serving Judicial officer.
However, the prosecution counsel, Justice Aliyu Umar differed on the submission, saying the CCT has absolute right in law to try a serving Judicial officer because the act establishing the CCT has empowered it with such jurisdiction.
When the fireworks became overheated, the CCT helmsman with other officers of the tribunal excused themselves for consultation and to take a position.
© Daily Post