The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, failed to appear at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for the non-assets declaration charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Commencing proceedings, the CCT chairman led by Justice Danladi Umar affirmed Onnoghen’s solemn absence at 10:28 am on Monday.
But counsel to Onnoghen, Adegnoyega Awomolo (SAN) made an oral application for adjournment, arguing that the National Judicial Council (NJC) had intervened in the matter with a directive to Onnoghen to respond to a petition against him within seven days which, according to him, will elapse on Wednesday.
In his words, “NJC under its powers has forwarded a petition against the CJN for him to respond within seven days.
“The seven days will elapse on Wednesday, February 6. And we are hoping that shortly thereafter, NJC will meet to consider the reply of CJN over the allegations.
“The proceedings are better adjourned so that the CJN does not suffer a double tragedy in the hands of the CCT and CJN.
“We are praying that this matter be adjourned to enable NJC take decision before further proceedings by this tribunal”.
However, counsel to the federal government Aliyu Umar (SAN) did not object to the application. He rather suggested that the adjournment be put for Thursday this week saying, if Onnoghen fails to come, the tribunal could use powers within its jurisdiction to compel him.
In response, Umar objected to the further adjournment, accusing the counsel of the defendant of using technicalities in law to buy time.
Besides, he said the matter for Monday was to determine the tribunal’s jurisdiction on the matter and interlocutory application for the suspension of Onnoghen.
This legal position taken by Umar did not go down well with Awomolo as it sparked protracted legal fireworks and exchange of words which culminated in the tribunal withdrawing into 30 minutes closed-door session.