•As Senate withdraws Supreme Court suit
By Vivian Okejeme, Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned trial of Justice.Walter Onnoghen over non assets declaration to 13th February.
The adjournment is informed, to enable the National judicial Council (NJC) to take a decision on the petition forwarded to the defendant.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Danladi Umar, also, ordered that Onnoghen must appear before the tribunal, insisting that he must take his plea before the defense raise any objection on its competence.
This is just as the Senate has ordered the discontinuation of the case it filed at the Supreme Court on the unilateral suspension of Justice Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari, without its approval.
At the resumption of Onnoghen’s trial, the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar SAN, informed the court that the matter was adjourned to today for arraignment and hearing of two motions, on preliminary objection to jurisdiction of the tribunal and one filed by the prosecution asking for an order for the CJN to step aside.
Responding, counsel to the defense, Awomolo Adegboyega SAN, drew the attention of the tribunal to the petitions handed to the defendant for responds.
According to Adegboyega SAN, the petition the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) Abubaka Malami, forwarded to the NJC, has also been forwarded to Onnoghen.
He submitted that the body, has sent the same petitions to the defendant to reply it within 7 days, which will lapse on Wednesday 6th Feb.
He added that the body will consider the reply of the defendant to the petition upon its reconvention on 11th Feb.
He, prayed the tribunal to adjourn pending the decision of the NJC.
‘’We apply that the matter will be adjourned for NJC to take a decision before further proceedings on the matter, so that the defendant will not suffer double jeopardy.
‘’The integrity of the CCT will be enhanced if this application is granted,’’ he posited.
Reacting, the prosecution says it is not opposing the application for adjournment, not because the NJC is now involved.
He added that the matter of petition raise by the defence counsel is unnecessary and adjournment should be subject to the convenient of the court.
He drew the attention of the court to the defendant’s continuous absence in court, stating that, he would be force to exercise his powers, to apply for a bench warrant.
‘’In view to the fact that justice has to be done, I agree with the defence for adjournment,’’ he said.
At this point, Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Umar, insisted on proceeding with the trial by allowing the parties to argue the preliminary objection the suspended CJN filed to challenge jurisdiction of the tribunal to try him.
Umar further accused Onnoghen’s lawyer of deliberately employing delay tactics in a bid to frustrate the trial.
He held that the court must hear the motions, irrespective of the fact that the prosecution counsel did not object.
The prosecution counsel prayed the tribunal for a 30 minutes stand-down to douse the tension and enable the parties deliberate.
Meanwhile, the panel reconvened and adjourned the case till next week Wednesday, 13th February, 2019.
‘’I proceed to adjourn the matter at the instance of the parties.
‘’The presence of the defendant is needed at the tribunal.
‘’Plea must be taken before the defence make any objection on the competence and jurisdiction of the court’’ he held.
In a related development, the Senate in a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, said it has withdrawn its suit from the Supreme Court following the intervention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the issue.
The statement said the Senate has decided to give the NJC intervention a chance.
“The Senate has therefore decided to discontinue the case it filed at the Supreme Court. It should be noted that the case has been slated for hearing tomorrow. This decision also affirm the confidence of the
Senate in the ability of the NJC to successfully and creditably resolve the issues”, the statement said.