CCT orders arrest of Justice Onnoghen

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The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT has ordered both the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of Police to arrest of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Delivering a ruling of the three-man tribunal, the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, ordered the security agencies to produce Onnoghen at the tribunal on Friday.

He dismissed the objection raised to the application for the issuance of the arrest warrant and ordered that “I want to see the defendant in the dock on Friday”.

‎The CCT had made the order following an application by the lead prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN), who said the consistent absence of the CJN from the CCT was a violation of provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Umar, who anchored his application for Onnoghen’s arrest on section 6(1) of the Practice Direction of the CCT, also opposed the call on the three-man tribunal by the lead defence counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), to hear all pending applications.

Umar maintained that by virtue of section 396(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 no objections could be raised by the defendant until he took his plea.

The prosecuting counsel said Onnoghen having not taken his plea, the objection by him could not be heard.

Adegboyega Awomolo, lead defense counsel, however, kicked against the application.

Onnoghen had asked Umar to withdraw from presiding over his trial on the grounds of “real likelihood of bias”.

But Umar said he and members of the tribunal are not judicial officers, hence they cannot be subjected to disciplinary actions by the National Judicial Council (NJC) or the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

A civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ARDI), had petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), listing a number of allegations against Onnoghen.

He was accused of maintaining domiciliary foreign currencies account said to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders. But the suspended CJN had accused the tribunal of bias in his trial.

He had filed an application for a stay of proceeding of the case, at the court of appeal but the court turned it down. It is, however, yet to rule on Onnoghen’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to entertain the case.

The National Judicial Council (CJN) recently set up a panel to investigate the suspended CJN as well as Ibrahim Muhammad who is acting in his stead.

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