A federal high court in Abuja has stopped the plan to arraign Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed six counts of non-declaration of assets against the CJN. Onnoghen was summoned to the tribunal but he was absent when the CCT commenced sitting on Monday.
Ruling on two separate ex parte applications, N.E Maha, a judge, ordered parties to maintain status quo till January 17.
He ruled that the defendants should be served with all the papers filed and that they should appear in court at the next hearing.
The CCT had adjourned the trial till January 22.
Danladi Umar, chairman of the tribunal, adjourned the matter after Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Onnoghen, argued that his client was not properly served.
Olanipekun said this after Aliyu Umar, counsel to the government, said Onnoghen ought to be arraigned since he had been served with the summons.
He said the CJN was served through his private secretary.
“We went to the CJN’s house and he (Onnoghen) directed that his private secretary receive it,” Umar said.
However, Olanipekun said as far as the law was concerned, the CJN had not been served. He said in a matter of such nature, Onnoghen ought to have been served personally except the court ordered that he be served via a substituted means.
He also challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal, saying it was the National Judicial Council (NJC) which ought to probe allegations levelled against serving judges.
“Your lordship will first have to determine the jurisdiction, we have to settle the jurisdiction of the tribunal. I am surprised that my learned friend is talking about arraignment,” Olanipekun said.