Onnoghen’s lawyers argue for his absence at CCT
The defence team of Nigeria’s chief Justice Walter Onnoghen said on Monday it was wrong for the Nigerian government’s team to be pushing for the commencement of trial of the chief justice when the defendant has not been served a summon.
Onnoghen did not appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he is to be tried for allegedly not declaring some of his assets when he became the country’s head of the judiciary.
“The presence of the accused person is only mandated when the trial officially commences,” Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led Onnoghen’s defence team of 46 lawyers, said.
Olanipekun also challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to try the suit since the National Judiciary Council has not found the Chief Justice of Nigeria culpable of any wrongdoing.
He also argued that Onnoghen was not given enough time to prepare for his defence by the tribunal.
“You have to first determine whether you have the jurisdiction to try this matter,” Olanipekun told the tribunal chairman Danladi Umar.
*Umar, however, agreed that the CJN should be served sometime this week. But Olanipekun insisted that since the matter involves serving the paper direct to CJN, it may not happen this week.
He asked for the CCT to adjourn to January 28 for the Nigerian government to able to serve Onnoghen properly.
But the tribunal adjourned until next Tuesday.
PRNigeria, which publishes official government statements, claimed that court papers served being “served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal.”
The Nigerian government is suing the CJN for “refusal to declare his assets in breach of the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
“He is also being accused of maintaining domiciliary foreign currencies account which comprised Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.”
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