The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ordered the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (Dss) to effect the arrest of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and bring him to the CCT for trial on Friday.
The tribunal action comes as the National Judicial Council ( NJC ) constitutes a five-man committee to investigate petitions written against Onnoghen and Acting Chief Justice Justice Tanko Muhammad, in line with Rule 20 (1) of its Regulations, a statement from NJC says.
Worse, another petition against Muhammad from a political party has been received by the NJC.
The CCT on Wednesday issued the order on Onnoghen as a result of a request by the Federal Government for a bench warrant against him after he did not show up at the tribunal to enter his plea to the charges pending against him.
Onnoghen has consistently failed to appear at the CCT, where he is facing trial for failing to declare his assets as prescribed by the law and of operating foreign bank accounts in contravention of the code of conduct for public officials, had on three previous dates, refused to appear before the CCT for arraignment.
On Wednesday, prosecution lawyer, Aliyu Umar, relied on section 6 (1) of the CCT Practice Direction and section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, to apply for a bench warrant against the Onnoghen
“May I draw your attention and the honorable members to the fact that the defendant is not in court today. “I hereby humbly apply for a warrant of arrest against the defendant”, Umar stated.
NJC’s statement by its spokesman, Mr. Soji Oye adds: “In continuation of its Emergency Meeting, the National Judicial Council accepted the result of the preliminary assessment of the petitions against Hon.Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON and Hon. Mr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR that the petitions were worthy of further investigation and should not be terminated under Rule 17 of the Judicial Discipline Regulations of the Council.
“Consequently, the council constituted a five-member Investigation Committee pursuant to Rule 20 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations under the Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice S. A. Akintan,CON, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“A new petition against Hon. Mr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR, by the Action People’s Party (APP) was referred to the Hon. Mr. Justice for his comments within an abridged 7-days.
“Council directed the Investigation Committee to work expeditiously, determine all the petitions and responses and report to Council for a final decision.”