A’court strikes out four appeals of Onnoghen but faults his suspension (updated)
The court of appeal sitting in Abuja on Friday struck out four appeals filed by Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), on his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The CCT had convicted Onnoghen on six counts bordering on false assets declaration and ordered that he should be removed from office. It also banned him from holding public office for 10 years.
In a report on TheCable, the CCT ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five accounts which the defendant was said to have failed to declared as part of his assets.
But Onnoghen challenged the verdict of the tribunal at the appellate court.
In its ruling on Friday, a three-man bench led by Stephen Adah, held that three of the appeals had become academic since the trial had been concluded by the CCT.
But the court ruled that the CCT breached Onnoghen’s right to fair hearing when it ordered his suspension based on the false assets declaration charges filed against him at the tribunal.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Onnoghen on January 25, citing an order from the CCT.
Adah said the order was not only made when Onnoghen had not been arraigned before the CCT but it was obtained in a manner “shrouded in secrecy”.
Olabisi Ige, the judge who read the lead judgment in another appeal, held that the CCT ought to have been bound by the various court orders from the National Industrial Court and the Federal High Court stopping the trial.
The judge also faulted the tribunal for ignoring the orders.
The court dismissed Onnoghen’s appeal challenging the warrant of arrest issued against him by the CCT.
The appeal was struck out on the basis that the ex-CJN failed to present a copy of the arrest before the court.
The court ruled that there was no need to go into the merit of the interlocutory appeal challenging the ex parte order of the CCT which ordered Onnoghen to step aside as the CJN.
The court held that the decision to suspend Onnoghen had already been overtaken by events.
The appeal court is yet to give a date for its final ruling on Onnoghen’s appeal.