Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has shifted hearing of the three appeals filed by suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen to February 27.
The postponement is the third in the history of the appeals challenging the decisions of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where Onnoghen is standing trial on a six-count charge bordering on alleged breach of the code of conduct for public officers.
The suspended CJN in one of his appeal is challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the charge against him, being a serving judicial officer.
In his second appeal, the embattled CJN is questioning the propriety of the CCT’s ruling of January 14 this year, in which it elected to hear all pending application.
While the third appeal is against the CCT ex-parte order directing Onnoghen to vacate office as CJN and President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an acting CJN.
The court had, in late January this year, scheduled hearing in the appeals for February 12 this year.
When parties appeared in court, the court could not form a quorum for the purpose of hearing the appeals. Two of the three Justices, required to form a quorum, were said to be attending a seminar.
The court subsequently adjourned to the next day. It could also not hear the appeals on February 13 owing to a request by the Federal government to be allowed to engage a new lawyer.
Oyin Koleoso, who represented the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), told the court that the AGF had instructed that Aliyu Umar (who is prosecuting the charge at the CCT) should take over the case of the respondent.
Kolaoso noted that Umar was, (at that time the Court of Appeal proceedings were on), at the CCT.
Koleoso sought an adjournment to enable Umar to take over the case of the respondent.
Lawyers to the appellant, Chris Uche, objected to an adjournment, but he was overruled by a three-man panel of the court presided over by Justice Abdul Aboki.
The court further adjourned hearing in the appeals till February 20.
Again, when parties got to court on Tuesday, Umar, who appeased for the respondents, said he had filed an application, in which he, among others sought to be afforded the time to familiarise himself with what had been filed in the appeals so far.
Appellant’s lawyer, Uche did not object to a request for a brief adjournment, following which the court adjourned till February 27 this year