The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, have asked the Supreme Court to strike out a suit by the Cross River Government challenging the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, and his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari.
They asked the court to decline jurisdiction to hear the suit as the issues complained of by the plaintiff in it were personal to Onnoghen
They maintained that personal issues like the ones contained in the Cross River State Government suit could only involve the Supreme Court where an appeal arises from the Court of Appeal’s decision either during or after the trial at the CCT.
They were replying to Cross River’s suit marked, SC/45/2019.
The plaintiff in the suit queried the propriety of Onnoghen’s trial before the Code of Conduct Triunal on the charges of false assets declaration.
It urged the Supreme Court to declare the trial llegal on the grounds that it was only the National Judicial Council that could exercise disciplinary powers over a serving judge.
Objecting to the suit, the defendants, the FG and AGF, argued that the subject of the case did not qualify as a dispute between the Cross River State and the Federal Government, as envisaged under Section 232(1) of the Constitution.
Onnoghen hails from Cross River State, but the defendants argued that the suit would be of no benefit to the state.
They added, “The relief and claims made herein by the plaintiff are not for the benefit of Cross River State, but personal to Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel.
“The alleged cause of action in the subject matter of this suit is not one that creates the existence or extent of a legal right between the Cross River State Government, in its capacity as a state and the defendants in this suit as stated under Section 232(1) of the Constitution.”
The plaintiff, in its originating summons, wants the court to, among others, declare that by the provisions of sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Constitution, there is a clear recognition of the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances in relation to the operations of the three arms of government.
It therefore urged the court to grant an order of injunction, restraining the defendants and their agents from further initiating or proceedings with any similar charge or charges against Onnogh
Pen or any judicial officer of the superior court created by the Constitution, until a formal report of misconduct is first, made to and investigated by the NJC.
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