THE Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has struck out the no case submission filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, in the case of false assets declaration brought against him by the federal government.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Umar Danladi, gave the ruling on Friday, insisting that Onnoghen has a case to answer and should open his defence.
At the last adjourned date on March 22, the counsel to the federal government, Aliyu Umar, informed the court that the prosecution was closing its case against the accused person, having called three out of the six witnesses it had listed for the trial.
Onnoghen’s lead counsel, Adeboyega Awomolo, subsequently informed the court of the decision of the defence team to file a no-case submission. He requested to be allowed access to the court’s proceedings so far to enable him to file the application.
But during Friday’s hearing, the trial judge rejected the no-case submission filed by the defence counsel and ordered that Onnoghen must open his defence on the next adjourned date which is Monday, April 1.
Onnoghen is facing a six-count false asset declaration charge. He was accused of failing to declare several bank accounts which he operates and which FG alleged contains huge sums of money suspected to be proceeds of corruption.
It was based on the allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen and appointed Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN.
Onnoghen’s removal from office and the subsequent appointment of an acting CJN has been the subject of huge controversy. Some argue that the president does not have the authority under the constitution to unilaterally remove the head of the judiciary, which is an independent arm of government, but others argue that since it was the president who appointed the CJN into office, he reserves the right to fire him if the situation arises.