Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has approached the Court of Appeal to dismisse the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Onnoghen through his defence team led by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo had tried to file a no-case submission. He had accused the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) of failing to comply with its laws in treating the charge against him.
The Danladi Umar led CCT however rejected his no-case submission, saying that Onnoghen must open his defence in respect to the six counts of false and non-declaration of assets against him.
“The present board chaired by Isa Mohammed has not adopted the standard provisional provisions. In essence, the standard procedure of the Bureau is not used currently at the Bureau because it was authored by the former administration at their own interest.
“The constitutional provisions are superior to the SOP which is internal. The tribunal is not bound by it, rather it is bound by the cause of justice,” Umar said.
“This is a court that does not rely on technicalities but on the substance of the charge. The defendant made a written admission without duress that he forgot to declare his asset.
“This confessional statement is more than enough for the defendant to enter his defence if he has any. The defendant’s admission statement is enough to call the defence to give his evidence. The defence counsel ought to perform its constitutional duties first,” Mr Umar said.
“The tribunal shall never be swayed from exercising justice for whosoever appears before it. We are all equal, before the law,” Mr Umar added.
“The tribunal hereby orders the defendant to enter his defence. The no-case submission is discountenanced and subsequently refused,” the CCT chairman ruled.
Consequently, the embattled CJN filed a suit at the Appeal Court to challenge the ruling of the CCT.
Onnoghen in his application said that the CCT erred in law when it dismissed the no-case submissions, despite evidences brought by the defence team, stating that the case against him was invalid.
The CJN noted that the fact that the CCB admitted that it did not verify Onnoghen’s assets as required by the rule invalidates the whole case.
He urged the court to discharge and acquit him by dismissing the entire charges against him, adding that even “the petition on which the whole prosecution is predicated was never called as a witness by the prosecution and thereby rendered his petition a mere hearsay and this occasioned grave miscarriage of justice”.
He was accused by the federal government through the CCB of failing to declare some of his assets.