The court of appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed a motion filed by Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria, seeking stay of proceedings on his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The federal government is prosecuting him for alleged false assets declaration, but Onnoghen had approached the court, arguing the CCT had no jurisdiction to preside over the case.
But on Wednesday, a three-man panel led by Abdul Aboki, ruled that the charges brought against Onnoghen were criminal in nature and that the proceedings before the CCT cannot be stopped.
The appellate court said going by the provisions of the criminal justice act, it lacked the power to stay proceedings in criminal cases.
“A court has inherent jurisdiction to grant stay of proceedings where it is certified that enough evidence has been given for such,” Aboki said.
He, therefore, argued that enough evidence had not been given for a stay of execution and as such, “order for stay cannot be made in vacuum”.
The court subsequently adjourned till February 4 for hearing on Onnoghen’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT on the case.
This means the tribunal can proceed with the CJN’s trial.
The CCT had adjourned indefinitely pending the determination of Onnoghen’s request.
It had before then granted an application filed by the federal government to allow Onnoghen to “step aside” as CJN pending the outcome of the ongoing trial.
Onnoghen has approached the supreme court to challenge his suspension.