Federal Government’s trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, may have hit a brick wall as a Federal High Court in Abuja has halted the planned arraignment.
The Nigerian Government through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed a-six-count charge of non-declaration of assets against the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Friday.
The CJN was to be arraigned before the CCT this Monday but was absent when the matter came up at the Tribunal.
However, ruling on two different ex parte applications, the Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice N.E Maha, on Monday ordered parties to maintain status quo till January 17.
In the two different suits, the judge held that the defendants should be served with all the papers filed and they should appear in court at the next hearing.
One of the two suits is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2019 and was filed by incorporated trustees of the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative.
It has the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Chairman of CCT, Danladi Umar; the National Judicial Council, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as defendants.
The second suit is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/28/2019 and was filed by the incorporated trustees of the International Association of Students Economists and Management.
Defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malami; the CCT, the CCB, the Chairman of CCT, Umar; and the Inspector-General of Police, Idris.
The ex parte application in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2019 was moved by Mr. R.A Lawal-Rabana (SAN), before Justice Maha on Monday, while that of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/28/2019 was moved by Mr. Jeph Njikonye.
The applicants filed the suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja while the CCT proceedings where Onnoghen was being expected to be arraigned was ongoing.
Following Justice Onnoghen’s absence at the CCT proceedings, the tribunal had adjourned till January 22 to proceed on the matter.
But in his ruling, Justice Maha held that no further steps should be taken in respect of the trial until January 17 when all parties to the two suits should return to court for the hearing of the plaintiffs’ motion on notice.