The expected fireworks at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was an anti-climax on Monday following the adjournment to Tuesday, 22nd January, mainly as a result of the absence of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
When Danladi Umar, the Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman, called the case a few minutes after taking his seat a few minutes after 10:00 a.m., the CJN was not around.
A tribunal official confirmed that Onnoghen was served through his personal assistant.
Onnoghen’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, leading more than 70 lawyers, including more than 40 Senior Advocates of Nigeria questioned the jurisdiction of the CCT.
“You have to first determine whether you have the jurisdiction to try this matter,” adding that the National Judicial Council (NJC) ought to have dealt with any infraction before the tribunal could proceed.
He also said the head of the judiciary was not given enough time to prepare his defence having been served last Friday.
Olanipekun raised the issue of service of summons on Onnoghen, insisting it was not served on him personally.
It was the turning point that forced an adjournment from Tribunal chairman after the prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN) admitted the manner of service to the CJN was inappropriate. He said the Justice had to be served personally.
Meanwhile, there was heavy presence of security personnel at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, venue of the scheduled arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
As early as 8:00 a.m. the venue was already condoned off by security operatives who carried out screening of persons going into the premises of the tribunal.
Count one of the charge read: That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON between June 8, 2005 to December 14, 2016 being a public officer, serving as a Judicial Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria failed to declare and submit a written declaration of all your assets and liabilities within the prescribed period of (3) months after being sworn-in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the 8 day of June, 2005 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.
In counts 2 to 6, Onnoghen, was accused of falsely declaring his assets by omitting to declare funds in his domiciliary accounts as well as an e- saving accounts both in local and foreign currencies, all in Standard Chartered Banks, Wuse, Abuja.