Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen yesterday , failed to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to be arraigned on a six-count criminal charge against him.
This came as the Federal Government has hired the services of a former Commissioner of Justice in Kano State, Alhaji Aliyu Umar, to head the team to prosecute him over his alleged refusal to declare his assets.
At exactly 10am when the charge marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, was called up, Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, demanded to know why the CJN was not in court and if he was served with the charge.
The prosecution counsel, Umar, SAN, who led five other lawyers, told the court that the CJN was served through one of his personal assistants. “When we went to his house, he directed Gus personal assistant to collect the charge on his behalf. His personal assistant endorsed it, so he has been served”, Umar told the tribunal. Aside allegation that he failed to disclose his assets as prescribed by law, FG, in the charge that was filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, equally accused the CJN of operating foreign back accounts. The prosecuting agency alleged that contrary to relevant laws regulating conduct of public office holders, the CJN, maintained a domiciliary foreign currencies account that comprised of Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account.
Chief Wole Olanipekun who led 46 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria and 43 other lawyers, told the tribunal that the CJN had filed a motion dated January 14, challenging jurisdiction of the tribunal to try him. “We are not just challenging jurisdiction, we are even challenging the jurisdiction of this tribunal to even snif that charge”, Olanipekun submitted.