Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Ordered IGP & DG.DSS to Arrest Onnoghen
The embattled and suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria was asked & ordered by Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to be arrested.
CCT chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, issued the bench warrant against Onnoghen following his absence in court yesterday for his arraignment.
At its last sitting, the tribunal ordered that Onnoghen must make himself available in court yesterday for arraignment over alleged failure to declare his assets.
When the matter came up for hearing, Onnoghen was not in court and his lawyers led by Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), prayed the court to take all pending applications relating to the trial, particularly, the issue of the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Awomolo insisted that the issue of jurisdiction must be determined one way or another before the tribunal could proceed to take further motions.
He, therefore, prayed the CCT to allow the issue of jurisdiction being the foundation of the trial to be resolved in the interest of justice. But, counsel to the federal government, Aliyu Umar (SAN), opposed the application and insisted that the issue of the defendant’s absence in court to take his plea, must first be addressed.
He said that until the defendant appears physically in court, the issue of jurisdiction and other motions cannot be taken, adding that while in court, Onnoghen has the right to refuse to take plea but has no right to refuse to appear in court.
The counsel recalled that since January 14, 2019 when Onnoghen ought to have been arraigned, he was not in court and that even after the service of the charge had been served on him in person, he still did not appear in court.
The government lawyer, who cited authorities to support his submission, promised to make the authorities available to the tribunal to enable it arrive at a just conclusion. In a surprise move, Umar brought out a prepared and written ruling and read almost immediately Aliyu Umar concluded his argument.
In the ruling, the CCT chairman ordered that a bench warrant be issued against Onnoghen for his arrest either by the IGP or the DG of DSS and to produce him before the tribunal tomorrow.
Umar said that Onnoghen must be in the dock tomorrow unfailingly, adding that he must first submit himself to the jurisdiction of the tribunal and raise whatever objection he has thereafter.
Shortly after the ruling, the federal government’s lawyer drew the attention of the chairman to the fact that the Friday is the eve of the presidential election but, Umar dismissed the information and insisted that Onnoghen must be brought before him on the next adjourned date. Umar, who did not allow the two other members of the tribunal to make input or react to the ruling, announced that the matter be adjourned till tomorrow.
Shortly after the ruling, some lawyers in their reactions condemned the tribunal chairman, accusing him of acting a script.