Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was yesterday stalled following his absence in court on medical grounds.
The Federal Government had, in the charge, alleged that Onnoghen failed to declare his assets as prescribed by law, and maintained foreign bank accounts.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been admitted to bail on self-recognition.
However, at the resumed trial yesterday, Onnoghen was absent from court.
His lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, explained to the tribunal that Onnoghen’s absence was occasioned by a tooth ache and high blood pressure, which was said to be around 210/121.
Awomolo tendered a medical report from Ideal Medical Services, Abuja, where Justice Onnoghen was said to have been treated, to convince the tribunal.
The medical report, signed by Dr. Francis Uche, the medical director of the hospital, recommended, among others, that Onnoghen must observe 72 hours bed rest for his blood pressure to be properly monitored.
Reacting to the development, counsel to the Federal Government, Aliyu Umar, SAN, acknowledged receipt of the medical report to say the health of the defendant was paramount and should be considered by the tribunal.
“I have read the medical report concerning the defendant and I have reserved the observation that I would have made.
“This is because the health of the defendant is equally important for the prosecution to proceed, more importantly, when the report stated that the high blood pressure of the defendant is 210/121.
“As an old man, I know what this means. There is, therefore, sufficient reason for the absence of the defendant in court today. And by the medical report, it is recommended that he should be given 72 hours bed rest.
“In view of the ruling of this tribunal for the trial to proceed on daily basis and taking into consideration the health condition of the defendant, I apply that the case be adjourned till next Monday, March 18, to enable the defendant have sufficient rest as recommended by his doctor, “ Umar submitted.
He informed the tribunal that although his witnesses were in court and he was ready to proceed with the trial, he had to concede to an adjournment because of the importance of the health of the defendant.
In his short ruling, the tribunal’s chairman, Danladi Umar, agreed with the position of the prosecution and the medical report and postponed the trial till March 18.