28 minutes ago/
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division yesterday adjourned till February 12 for the hearing of the various appeals filed against the six-count criminal charge filed against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Federal Government. The three-man Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Stephen Adah, fixed the date to enable it to consolidate different appeals filed in the matter. When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to Onnoghen, Chris Uche (SAN), drew the attention of the court to the existence of different appeals that border on the same subject matter. Justice Onnoghen, who was suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, had gone before the appellate court to challenge the procedure the tribunal adopted for his trial.
He also challenged the decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to hear the preliminary objection he lodged against his trial, alongside FG’s motion for an order of interlocutory injunction to compel him to step aside as both the CJN and Chairman of the NJC. Besides, Justice Onnoghen also lodged another appeal to query the legal competence of an ex-parte order the CCT issued on January 23, which President Buhari relied upon to suspend him from office and appoint the next ranking Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Tanko Muhammad, as the Acting CJN. Among his grounds of appeal, Justice Onnoghen argued that the Danladi Umar-led CCT erred in law by granting an ex-parte order for his removal, even when its jurisdiction to entertain the six-count charge the Federal Government levelled against him was being challenged.
He prayed for an order setting aside the order of the tribunal made on the 23rd of January, directing the appellant to step aside as the CJN and a further order that the President takes all necessary measures to swear in the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as Acting CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC). He submitted that the exercise of powers over the motion ex-parte without first determining the jurisdiction of the tribunal amounted to unlawful exercise of jurisdiction.