Onnoghen Absent at CCT, Challenges Tribunal’s Jurisdiction
*Case adjourned till January 22, as court orders fresh service of summons on CJN
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen on Monday failed to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to answer to alleged charges of non declaration of his assets.
The tribunal following an application by the Code of Conduct Bureau CCB had Scheduled Monday (today) for the arraignment of the CJN.
The Federal Government is prosecuting the CJN on a six count criminal charge bordering on non-declaration of his assets.
However, when the matter was called up at about 10am Monday, Onnoghen was not present in court for the arraignment.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun, who led a team of about 45 other senior advocates informed the tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar that the defendant had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the suit.
Olanipekun also informed the court that the defendant was not in court because he had not been served with the summons of the tribunal.
Though prosecution counsel, Aliu Umar SAN, argued that service was effected on the CJN since according to him, the registrar of the court informed him that the CJN directed his personal secretary, one Sunday O., to accept service on his behalf.
But the defence had insisted that in a criminal charge, service must be made personally on the defendant.
Umar in conceding the defectiveness of the service, urged the court to redirect service on the defendant with a directive that the service be made personally on the CJN.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the matter till January 22 for the arraignment of Onnoghen and the hearing of all applications relating to the matter.
Meanwhile, there was heavy presence of security personnel at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, venue of the scheduled arraignment of the Chief Justice Onnoghen.
As early as 8am the venue was already condoned off by security operatives who screened persons going into the premises of the tribunal.
Over 50 Senior advocates alongside dozens of other lawyers attended the proceedings in line with the call of NBA President, Paul Usoro SAN, to show solidarity with the CJN.