The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ruled that the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has a case to answer in his ongoing trial over alleged false assets declaration.
Despite pleas for further adjournment, Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, insisted that Justice Onnoghen must enter his defence on Monday, April 1.
The development follows the resumed trial in Abuja during which the counsels to the Federal Government and Justice Onnoghen argued their positions on the no-case submission for one hour, 45 minutes.
The three-man bench of the CCT led by Danladi Umar, which earlier took arguments of parties on Friday, held that Onnoghen had case to answer and should enter his defence.
Contrary to the contention by Onnoghen’s legal team that the three witnesses called by the prosecution failed to give credible evidence to prove the case, the CCT held that the admission to the alleged offences by the embattled top judicial officer showed that there was a prima facie case against him.
Umar in his ruling held that the confessional statement of the defendant was enough evidence to warrant that he enters his defence.
The CCT boss said he would not allow technicalities to arrive at a conclusion in the trial of Onnoghen.
Umar further held that the defense rather than allowing the defendant to take punishment due to him for his confessional statement was out to prevent the tribunal from doing its job.
He stressed that the tribunal who not shy away from given punishment to anybody no matter his position.
Onnoghen’s counsel, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, accused the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) of not following its standard procedures in instituting the case against the suspended CJN.
According to him, the highest authorities at the CCB were not consulted before the charge was filed at the CCT.
But the prosecution counsel, Mr Aliyu Umar, insisted that the CCB Act cannot override the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, as enshrined in the constitution.
He stated that the suspended CJN has a case to answer because he has been operating the account since 2009 and didn’t declare it since then.
The Chief Adegboyega Awomolo-led defence team promptly applied for the copy of the ruling to enable them to properly advise the defendant.
The tribunal chairman said it would be ready by Monday.
There is an uproar in the court room at Jabi, Abuja, currently, as lawyers from both sides confront each other over the decision of the tribunal to adjourn till Monday.
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