FG asks Onnoghen to ‘step aside’ over CCT trial

The federal government has asked Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to “step aside” from office.

Aliu Umar, counsel to the federal government in Onnoghen’s ongoing trial, made the submission at the resumed sitting of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday.

He said the CJN should “step aside pending the determination of the case”.

Umar, however, added that “we are not seeking for the removal” of the CJN.

He, therefore, asked the CCT to issue a temporary order asking the CJN to step aside.

But Wole Olanipekun, lead counsel of the CJN, said the court does not have the power to issue such an order.

“We have an application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear this case. And that application has not been heard,” he said.

“The tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to make such order.”

He also asked the court to adjourn the case indefinitely till the pending court cases against the trial are determined.

But the federal government counsel countered this, arguing that the CCT is not subordinate to the other courts.

Umar said there is no ruling from a higher court seeking to put the trial on hold.

“I will submit that there has not been an order from the court of appeal,” he said.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) had filed a six-count charge of false assets declaration against Onnoghen after a petition by the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI).

The National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja on Monday reinforced its order restraining the continuation of the trial.

It had also restricted the police from arresting Onnoghen.