Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday announced that it would deliver Judgment in the four appeals filed by former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen against the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The appeals were made and argued by counsel to which the appellate court on February 27, 2019, reserved Judgment to a date that would be communicated to parties.
However, the Court of Appeal could not deliver its jugment before the CCT passed its own judgment convicting Onnoghen of all six count charge preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau ( CCB).
The tribunal having found Onnoghen guilty of the charges ordered his removal as CJN, banned him from holding any public office for the next 10 years as well as forfeiting the monies in his undeclared accounts with the Standard Chartered Bank.
However, a statement by the Court of Appeal Media Officer, Sa’adatu Musa Kachalla, said the appellate court will on Friday deliver Judgment on the four appeals.
In the first appeal, Onnoghen challenged the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the charge against him, being a serving judicial officer.
In the second appeal, he challenged the decision of the tribunal to hear all pending applications together including his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the suit.
In the third appeal, the former CJN also challenged the veracity of the ex-parte order directing him to vacate office as CJN and for President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an acting CJN.
Though Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, had announced appearance for Onnoghen, however Chief Chris Uche SAN, who argued the appeal on behalf of Onnoghen, emphasized that there is need for the appellate court to examine the circumstances surrounding the grant of the exparte order by the tribunal.
“The court should interrogate the circumstances which we consider questionable”, Uche said, adding that the grant of the exparte order has had far reaching consequences on the rule of law in the country.
According to the senior lawyer, the CCT ought not to have made the order in the first place considering the pendency of a motion questioning the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
Questioning further the circumstances in which the exparte order was obtained, Uche SAN, noted that the tribunal granted the order a day after it had adjourned to the following week on agreement of parties.
“The matter was adjourned on January 22 to January 28, on agreement of parties and the order was made the next day, January 23”, he said, adding that from the tribunal’s record, no counsel applied for the exparte order.
In a brief response, counsel to the Federal government, Aliyu Umar SAN, informed the court that neither the appellant nor respondent made available any material that would enable the court take a look at the circumstances surrounding the grant of the exparte order by the tribunal.
Before his conviction by the CCT, Onnoghen was said to have sent in his notice of retirement to President Buhari, but the presidency did not respond.
Onnoghen had however appealed his conviction by the CCT.