The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, is going to the Court of Appeal to challenge a ruling by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, that he has a case to answer in a dramatic ruling on Friday.
In the motion on notice, regarding the proposed application, Onnoghen said the tribunal erred in law in dismissing his no-case submission, despite the evidence brought by the defence team, suggesting the invalidity of the case.
Onnoghen’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo SAN gave the indication in Abuja.
Onnoghen is facing trial for alleged failure to declare his assets between 2005 and 2015.
It was a drama of sorts at the ruling of the tribunal. It went thus:
Chairman of CCT: The Learned Counsel to the Defendant made a no-case submission pursuant to Section 303 of the ACJA, and further filed a Written Address to buttress his points that the evidence led so far by the Prosecution does not warrant any Defence by the Defendant.
On the other hand, the Prosecution has also made submissions asking the Tribunal to make its Decision based on the evidence presented before it
As regards the contention of the Defence counsel on the provisions of the standard operational procedure, we have done our research and realized that the present board chaired by Professor Isah Mohammed has not adopted or implemented the Standard Operational Procedure, and same is not currently in use.
It is the Constitution that guides the CCB presently and supersedes every other law.
The Tribunal is not bound by technicalities, it is strictly bound to defend the interest of justice. We intend to do justice irrespective of the manner the charge was brought, we will dwell on the substance of the Charge.
The Defendant made a written submission and confessional statement, freely and not under duress, that he forgot to declare his assets.
This is more than enough reasons for him to enter his Defence if he has any.
▪The Tribunal shall never be swayed from exercising its powers in the interest of justice, regardless of whosoever appears before it, irrespective of his level. We are all equal, from the President to a shoe shiner.
▪The Defence team ought to perform its duty as a minister in the temple of Justice but it seems they are hell bent on preventing the Defendant from facing his punishment.
▪The Defendant should tender his Defence immediately to clear his name because it has been tainted so much
▪The Tribunal hereby orders the defendant to enter his Defence if any
▪The Defendant’s NO CASE SUBMISSION is hereby discointenanced and refused
The other two members of the Committee did not say anything
Onnoghen’s lawyer, Awomolo SAN : We respectfully apply for CTC of the Ruling of the Tribunal
Tribunal: It would be made available on Monday and the matter is adjourned to Monday
Awomolo: No, Mr. Chairman, Monday is not convenient. We need to study the records of proceedings and we are entitled to seek for adjournment, not more than 14 days
Tribunal: fine! The Ruling will be ready today and you must be here on Monday
Awomolo SAN is still pleading with the Chairman who insists on the charge being adjourned to Monday, 01 April 2019 and steps out of the Tribunal.
Awomolo SAN: God bless you Mr Chairman, God bless Nigeria
Awomolo SAN makes a statement to the press outside : The entire process shows sheer injustice, sorry to say. How can we be refused an adjournment? I pleaded with the Chairman of the Tribunal, that Monday is not convenient and he did not listen.