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Supreme Court dismisses suit filed to challenge Onnoghen suspension

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A Supreme Court sitting in Cross River on Friday dismissed a case filed by the state government to challenge the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in a split decision of six-to-one of a seven-man panel of the apex court, held that state government lacks the locus standi to institute the suit on behalf of Onnoghen.

Ariwoola, however, struck out the case without considering its merit on the grounds that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

A member of the panel, Justice Mary Peter-Odilli disagreed with the majority judgment, holding that the state government has the right to institute the suit as it where Onnoghen hails from.

She held that the Supreme Court was an appropriate place for the case to be filed, adding that the order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on which President Muhammadu Buhari acted upon to suspend‎ Onnoghen was wrong.

She further stated that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain such charges against the former CJN.

The judge held that the CCT lacked jurisdiction to ‎hear the false and non-declaration of assets charges instituted against Onnoghen.

Onnoghen was the former CJN of Nigeria, a position he held until his suspension and conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for declaration of false asset.

The CCT held that the former CJN failed to declare the five accounts he operated since 2009, which according to the tribunal was enough to guarantee a conviction.

Onnoghen was thereby banned from public office for a period of 10 years, while his accounts were frozen.


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