The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on Monday, declined the request by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to make an order stopping the Code of Conduct Tribunal from proceeding with his trial but rather adjourned the hearing to 24th January.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal had on January 14 fixed January 22 for hearing in the six counts of false assets declaration filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau against Justice Onnoghen.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had also filed a motion asking for an order directing Onnoghen to step down as the CJN pending the conclusion of his planned trial before the CCT.
Two non-governmental organisations – Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative; and International Association of Students – had approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, praying for orders quashing the charges against the CJN.
In response to the NGOs, Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court, Abuja had issued two separate orders directing that status quo should be maintained in Justice Onnoghen’s case before the CCT.
In furtherance of the steps to stop Justice Onnoghen’s proposed arraignment before the CCT, his lawyers, led by Chief Adegnoyega Awomolo (SAN), went before the Court of Appeal to obtain another restraining order against the CCT.
Awomolo told a three-man Court of Appeal panel, led by Justice Abdu Aboki, that the restraining order was necessary to preserve the subject matter of the case at the CCT.
But Federal Government’s counsel, Emmanuel Omonuwa, said he was only served with the court process by Justice Onnoghen’s legal team on Monday morning and he needed at least three days to reply.
After a short deliberation among themselves, the three Justices of the appeal court declined granting Awomolo’s prayer to halt the CCT proceedings against the CJN.
“We are of the view that no form of order shall be made at his stage pending hearing of motion on notice adjourned till January 24,” the panel ruled.
However, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja reaffirmed its last week interim order stopping the CCT proceedings against Justice Onnoghen.
The industrial court gave the restraining order in a suit filed by a lawyer, Peter Abang.
On Monday, Justice Sanusi Kado of the NIC reinforced the restraining order following an ex parte application moved by Abang’s counsel, James Igwe (SAN), who said there was difficulty in serving the court’s papers personally on CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar.
The judge directed that all the parties in the suit before him should not take any step that could destroy the substance of the case pending the hearing and determination of the claimant’s motion for interlocutory injunction.