The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned till January 28, for continuation of the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen.
This came after the judges on the panel held differing opinions on the application on the jurisdiction of the CCT, and for how long to adjourn.
Defence Counsel Wole Olanipekun had asked for an adjournment, but chairman of the CCT, Danladi said “The argument of the Defence Counsel that the case should be adjourned sine dine in view of other cases instituted in other courts is hereby refused. The Defence should continue its case against the CCT on the issues of jurisdiction.”
But the 2nd CCT Judge stated, that “This matter should be adjourned sine dine until all issues related to jurisdiction are settled.”
On the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, in view of the pending motions at a Federal High Court, Olanipekun said he wants to file a case on the counter-affidavit and service to the client including other issues hence there is little time to continue on the issue of jurisdiction at CCT. He also asked for an adjournment.
The CCT Chairman said an issue of jurisdiction is so important that it goes to the root of the matter, and that it has to be heard before any other application as requested by the Prosecution Team. He asked both counsel if an adjournment to Friday is okay.
The second CCT Judge in his minority judgment, said “The CCT cannot operate in isolation. Judgments of court of competent jurisdiction, where they subsist, must be obeyed. Irrespective of the powers of CCT, all judgments against the Code of Conduct Tribunal must be obeyed as issued by different courts”.
The third CCT Judge supported the ruling of the second Judge, hence it was two CCT members against the view of the CCT Chairman on the three-man panel.
Umar however, disagreed, noting, that the ruling by courts including the National Industrial Court is not binding on the CCT.
According to him, the tribunal is empowered by Constitution to deal with all issues referred to it by CCB only, adding, that the Tribunal has coordinate jurisdictions with Federal High Court and National Industrial Court, and that orders obtained by “busy bodies” are not binding
Both counsels later agreed that the be adjourned to Monday 28th January 2019 for application on the jurisdiction of CCT to be determined before the matter proceeds.
Recall that a three-man panel of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aboki, had earlier on Monday refused to stop arraignment of Onnoghen at the CCT and fixed January 24 for hearing on the matter.
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