Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Staff in the office of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen were allegedly turned down from their offices by security personnel Monday.
Although the office was not sealed, when our Daily Sun visited, police personnel led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Umar Abubakar, were positioned at its main entrance.
DSP Abubakar denied that the place was sealed, adding that the police were there on normal duty.
However, media aide to Justice Onnoghen, Mr Awassam Bassey, told Daily Sun that staff working in the CJN’s office were turned down from accessing their offices.
“They denied them access into the offices and those who were there earlier were asked by the police to leave or risk being arrested,” Bassey said.
“Although nobody turned me down when I went there, some of our staff were turned down. If you are saying the office is not sealed then what is the difference?”
However, there was calm at the Supreme Court building, where court was in session, when Daily Sun visited.
Meanwhile, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned indefinitely further proceedings on the assets declaration charges the Federal Government filed against the suspended Chief Justice.
The tribunal said its decision to suspend Justice Onnoghen’s trial was based on the order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Chairman of the Tribunal Danladi Umar ruled that “In view of the Court of Appeal order for stay of proceedings and out of respect for the Court of Appeal, the Tribunal hereby adjourns this matter sine die (indefinitely) pending the determination of the appeal before the Court of Appeal.”
Only the CCT Chairman and the third member of the panel, Mrs Julie Amabo, attended the sitting.
The second member of the panel, Mr William Agwadza Atedze, was absent.
Mr Atedze had openly disagreed with the Tribunal’s chairman over the procedure adopted in the trial of the suspended CJN.
Whereas Chairman Umar relied on section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to reject a motion Justice Onnoghen filed for the Tribunal to suspend his trial and await the outcome of his appeal.
On the other hand, Mr Atedze, relied on section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and host of Supreme Court decided cases, to insist that the CCT panel ought to have respected four different interim injunctions that restrained all parties, including the Tribunal, from taking further steps in the matter.
In Atedze’s absence, CCT Chairman Umar and Amabor, on January 23, issued the ex parte order President Muhammadu Buhari relied upon to suspend Onnoghen and appoint Justice Tanko Muhammad as the Acting CJN.
In a related development, lawyers protested in Abuja over the suspension of Justice Onnoghen.