A federal high court in Abuja has stopped the plan to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed six counts of non-declaration of assets against the CJN. Onnoghen was summoned to the tribunal but he was absent when the CCT commenced sitting on Monday.
Justice N.E Maha, who ruled on two separate ex parte applications, ordered parties to maintain status quo till January 17.
He ruled that the defendants should be served with all the papers filed and that they should appear in court at the next hearing.
Meanwhile, the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, had adjourned the trial till January 22, following the argument of Wole Olanipekun, counsel to the CJN, that his client was not properly served.
Olanipekun said this after Aliyu Umar, counsel to the government, said Onnoghen ought to be arraigned since he had been served with the summons.
He said the CJN was served through his private secretary. “We went to the CJN’s house and he (Onnoghen) directed that his private secretary receive it,” Umar said.
Olanipekun insisted that, said as far as the law was concerned, the CJN had not been served. He explained that in a matter of such nature, Onnoghen ought to have been served personally except the court ordered that he be served via a substituted means.
Olanipekun went on to challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal, arguing that it was the National Judicial Council (NJC) which ought to probe allegations levelled against serving judges.
“Your lordship will first have to determine the jurisdiction, we have to settle the jurisdiction of the tribunal. I am surprised that my learned friend is talking about arraignment,” Olanipekun said.