The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Wednesday issued a bench of warrant for the arrest of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen following his absence in court as ordered at the last sitting.
Consequently, the tribunal has asked the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) to arrest and produce Onnoghen unfailingly on Friday February 15 for arraignment.
Onnoghen is facing trial for refusing to adhere to the Code of Conduct Bureau stipulations and has since been put on trial on alleged non-asset declaration instituted against him by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, NBA and other stakeholders’ in the legal firmament have continued to exchange backlash over the purported suspension of the embattled CJN, arguing that President Muhammadu Buhari erred by not following the normal procedure and for breaching the doctrine of separation of powers.
Although, the defendant, Onnoghen failed to show up in court yesterday and in the previous four court sessions on the premise that the CCT lacked the jurisdiction to try him, nevertheless, the tribunal Chairman, Umar Danladi restated at yesterday hearing that any application against the jurisdiction of the court would only be entertained after the plea of the accused has been taken.
While absolving Onnoghen during his defence yesterday, his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN was quoted as telling the tribunal that: “As at the time the court was sitting, perhaps the CJN was attending a National Judicial Council meeting.”
But the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, SAN opposed the argument in his oral application
Umar, who anchored his application for Onnoghen’s arrest on section 6(1) of the Practice Direction of the CCT, also opposed the call on the three-man tribunal by the lead defence counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), to hear all pending applications.
Umar maintained that by virtue of section 396(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 no objections could be raised by the defendant until he took his plea.
The prosecuting counsel said Onnoghen having not taken his plea, the objection by him could not be heard.
Although when accosted after the session, Awomolo did not obliged journalists waiting to hear his response but, he had earlier opposed the application for the arrest warrant during his argument in the court room.