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Appeal Court orders CCT to stop Onnoghen’s trial

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen

The Court of Appeal on Thursday ordered the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to suspend the trial of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The ruling came after the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, had noted that similar order from the High Court could not stand because the CCT was not inferior to High Courts and the Industrial Court.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had ordered the CCT to suspend Onnoghen’s trial. But the CCT however went ahead, saying that High Courts have no power to order it.

Mr. Onnoghen was however absent at the CCT trial since his case started.

The latest ruling by the Appeal Court came after Onnoghen had approached the appellate court, seeking an order to stop the CCT trial, saying that the case against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was unconstitutional and lacks merit.

A three-member panel led by Abdul Aboki gave the suspension order after hearing from parties in a current appeal pending before it.

The Court of Appeal adjourned the ruling till January 30 and noted that the CCT must stop trial until a verdict is reached.

Mr. Umar of the CCT had adjourned Onnoghen’s trial till January 28, but the latest Appeal Court ruling would mean that the CCT would have to postpone the next trial date until the appellate court reaches a verdict.

The Federal Government had asked court to order Onnoghen to step down as CJN pending the outcome of the suit against him, saying that he cannot be a judge in his own case.

The Nigerian Bar Association and others had vehemently condemned the trial, saying that the number one judicial official would have been reported to the National Judicial Council first before trial against him.

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