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Suspended CJN Onnoghen pleads not guilty at CCT, trial adjourned

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THE suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has pleaded not guilty to charges bordering on alleged false asset declaration filed against him by the Nigerian government at  Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Friday.

Onnoghen is facing a six-count charge  for failing to declare some of his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau after his appointment as the CJN.

But the suspended CJN has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the court, Danladi Umar, CCT chairman, set aside the order for the arrest of Onnoghen before he took his plea. Onnoghen had been issued a bench warrant on Wednesday for his failure to show up in the tribunal to defend himself.

The CCT chairman said the warrant of arrest has been set aside because Onnoghen eventually  appeared at the tribunal.

But he added that the order of arrest was withdrawn on the condition that Onnoghen would continue to be present in court throughout the period of his trial.

“He must henceforth make himself available throughout the proceedings,” the CCT chairman said.

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Following the nullification of the the bench warrant, the suspended CJN  was granted bail on self recognition by the tribunal after a short oral application by his lawyer, Chris Uche, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

The CCT  adjourned the case till February 21 for hearing of all pending applications.

Onnoghen was suspended on January 25 by President Muhammadu Buhari after charges were filed against him at the CCT.

His suspension has been condemned by several national and international organisations as many said it contravened the Nigeria’s constitution.

The suspended CJN’s trial had been stalled  for three times because of his absence in court.

He had contested the powers of the tribunal to hear the case.  The tribunal ordered Onnoghen’s arrest on Wednesday but on Friday he appeared at the court.

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