Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court has fixed May 17 to deliver judgment on the suit filed by the government of Cross River State seeking to set aside the six-count charge of non declaration of assets against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The suit filed by the Attorney General of Cross River State on behalf of the state government is challenging the suspension and trial of Justice Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The suit dated January 22, 2019 and marked SC/45/2019 has the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants.
The Federal Government has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff has no standing to institute it.
In a notice of preliminary objections filed by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Federal Government further challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter on the grounds that “there is no dispute between the defendants in this suit and the plaintiff as envisaged under section 232(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
The Federal Government also contends that “the subject matter of this suit is personal to Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel and does not in any way affect the Cross River State Government as to confer it with the locus to institute this suit.
“The reliefs and claims made herein by the plaintiff are not for the benefit of Cross River State but personal to Hon Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel,” the Federal Government stated.
Meanwhile, when the matter came up for hearing Wednesday, counsel for the plaintiff, Locius Nwosu, SAN, adopted his brief of argument in urging the court to grant the reliefs sought by the state.
On his part, counsel to the defendants and the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Akpata, argued his notice of preliminary objection in urging the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
After taking all the arguments for and against the suit, the seven-man constitutional Panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour, accordingly adjourned the case to May 17 for judgment.
Other Justices on the panel included Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Mary Peter Odili, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice Ejembi Eko, Justice Musa Dattijo Mohammed, and Justice Dauda Sidi Bage.