The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, has rejected the request by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen to adjourn his trial indefinitely.
The CCT reconvened on Tuesday in continuation of the trial of the Justice Onnoghen over alleged issues on access declaration.
The tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar and the third member of the three-member panel, Julie Anabor refused the CJN’s application for indefinite adjournment.
The judges said the orders by High Courts were not binding on the CCT.
However, the second member, William Agwadza Atedze in a dissenting opinion, agreed with the CJN that with the orders by the High Courts and the appeal before the Court of Appeal, it was necessary for the CCT to adjourn indefinitely pending when the issue of jurisdiction was resolved.
There was disagreement between Umar and another member of the panel, William Agwadza Atedze, on the legal propriety of going ahead with trial despite four separate interim injunctions restraining all the parties from taking further steps in the matter.
Umar, in his ruling, insisted that the tribunal was not constitutionally bound by orders from both the high court and the NIC, and therefore rejected CJN’s application for the case to be adjourned sine-die.
He explained that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, forbade the grant to stay of proceeding in criminal matter.
“This proceeding before us is criminal in nature”, the CCT Chairman maintained.
Nevertheless, the second member of the panel, Atedze, in a dissenting ruling, said it would amount to “judicial rascality and anarchy”, for the CCT to proceed with the trial, having been notified of the fact that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has been seized of the facts of the matter.
He argued that the CCT had a legal responsibility to enforce every court order in line with the provision of section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“It will be dangerous to proceed with this matter. You cannot boulder a house without a foundation. It is my contention that steps should be taken at this preliminary stage to first of all resolve the issue of jurisdiction.
“This matter should therefore be adjourned sine-die (indefinitely) so that the particular issue of jurisdiction is resolved once and for all”, Atedze held.
However, in her ruling, the third member of the tribunal, Mrs. Julie Abieyuwa Amabor, concur and adopted the position of the CCT Chairman that the trial should proceed with hearing of both Onnoghen’s preliminary objection and FG’s application for him to step aside as the CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, NJC.