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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

CCT Chairman truly answerable only to Presidency, says NBA

CCT Chairman truly answerable only to Presidency, says NBA

•Lawyers plead with Fed Govt to stop Onnoghen’s CCT trial •Appeal Court fails to hear suspended CJN’s appeals

THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said yesterday that it agreed with the argument by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, that he and his tribunal were not answerable to the Judiciary, but the Presidency.

NBA, in a statement issued by its President, Paul Usoro (SAN), said Umar was correct in that argument, but contended that the fact that the CCT was under the control of the Executive informs the urgent need to discontinue charge of breach of code of conduct pending against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen before the CCT.

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It said: “The Chairman of the CCT, Hon. Danladi Umar, in his response to a  petition that was written against him and which was forwarded to him by the  Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) states emphatically that he and his tribunal are answerable and report only to the Presidency, by law and practice. He is absolutely correct.

“An insistence, in the circumstance, on the CJN, the head of an independent arm of the FGN, standing trial before a tribunal that is under the Presidency and is answerable only to the Presidency, mocks the concept of and completely erodes the independence of the judiciary and the constitutional separation that should exist between the three arms of the FGN.

“It is precisely for this reason that our constitution  created the NJC and we are pleased that the FGN has warmed up to the utilisation of that due process, as illustrated by the submission of the EFCC petition to the council.”

NBA’s new intervention is coming a day before the resumption of proceedings in the case before the CCT.

The CCT Chairman had, at the last proceedings on February 4, this year, insisted that Onnoghen must appear before the tribunal in person before any further businesses could be conducted in the charge pending against him (Onnoghen).

Umar gave the directive shortly before agreeing to the request by parties for adjournment to February 13.

He said: “Under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), a defendant, who is served with a charge and represented by lawyers, must take his plea before raising any objection.

“The defendant has continued to stay away from this tribunal. I am going to grant this adjournment at the instance of the prosecution and defence, but must state that the defendant must attend court at the next adjourned date so that all the issues would be resolved in his presence.”

Also yesterday, the Court of Appeal in Abuja failed to hear the three appeals filed by suspended CJN.

The appellate court had in late January adjourned on February 12, 2019 for the hearing of the appeals

But, when lawyers to parties got to court yesterday, the court could not form quorum (of three justices) for the purpose of hearing the appeals.

Parties were told to await information, on a later date, on when the hearing is to be rescheduled.

The appeals are against the decisions of the Code of Conduct to assume jurisdiction over the charge pending against Onnoghen and the ex-parte injunction granted by the CCT, and on which President Muhammadu Buhari acted to suspend Onnoghen.

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