Abuja, Nigeria: An Appeal Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the suspended chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, seeking a stay of execution on his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Court said the nature of the charges levelled against Onnoghen warrants that proceeding at the CCT continue.
The court said, in view of the provision of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), it lacked the power to stay proceedings in criminal cases.
Onnoghen is accused of failing to declare foreign currency bank accounts, in breach of rules governing public officials. He was suspended last week by President Muhammadu Buhari pending the determination of his trial at CCT. Onnoghen approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja last Tuesday, seeking an oral order stopping the CCT trial.
“A court has inherent jurisdiction to grant stay of proceedings if supported by enough evidence,” said Mr Aboki who read the CCT’s ruling with two other judges. However, the appeals court questioned the likelihood of its jurisdiction to grant such order as requested. The appeals court ruled that “his request for the stay of execution was brought in a vacuum,” without enough evidence or proper backing of legal provisions on the reason it should be granted.
Earlier in January, the Court of Appeal ordered the Code of Conduct Tribunal to suspend the trial of Justice Onnoghen, until the appellate court determines the appeals.
A three-man panel led by Abdul Aboki gave the order after hearing from all parties involved in the suit.
The court also adjourned its main ruling on the said appeals till January 30.
Following his planned arraignment at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on alleged false asset declaration on January 14, the CJN had asked the appeal court to stop the trial.
The CJN described the case instituted by the Code of Conduct Bureau as “unconstitutional and lacking merit”. But the Appeal Court declined the initial request, saying it would decide on the application after hearing from parties regarding the case.
Since the Appeal hearing, the trial at the tribunal has since started and Justice Onnoghen was absent on both occasions that the case had come up.