The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, has adjourned further proceedings on the non assets declaration charge the Federal Government filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, indefinitely.
The Mr. Danladi Umar-led tribunal said its decision to suspend Justice Onnoghen’s trial was based on the order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
“Inview of the Court of Appeal order for stay of proceedings and out of respect for the Court of Appeal, the tribunal hereby adjourn this matter sine-die (indefinitely) pending the determination of the Appeal before the Court of Appeal”, Mr. Umar ruled.
Only the CCT Chairman and the third member of the panel, Mrs. Julie Amabo, attended the sitting. The second member of the panel, Mr. William Agwadza Atedze, was absent.
It will be recalled that Mr. Atedze had openly disagreed with the Tribunal’s Chairman over the procedure adopted in trial of the suspended CJN.
Whereas the Chairman, Umar, relied on section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, to reject a motion Justice Onnoghen filed for the tribunal to suspend his trial and await the outcome of his appeal.
On the other hand, Mr. Atedze, relied on section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and plethora of Supreme Court decided cases, to insist that the CCT panel ought to have respected four different interim injunctions that restrained all the parties, including the tribunal, from taking further steps in the matter.
In Atedze’s absence, the CCT Chairman, Umar and Amabor, on January 23, issued the ex-parte order President Muhammadu Buhari relied upon to suspend Onnoghen and appoint Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Acting CJN.
Meanwhile, security operatives, on Monday, sealed-off Onnoghen’s chambers at the Supreme Court, even as his administrative staff were barred from having access into any of the offices. The Acting CJN, Muhammad, however took over and presided over about ten cases that came up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Monday.
Some civil society organisations and the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), today staged peaceful protest in Abuja, to press home their demand for reversal of the suspension of the CJN