Appeal Court Nullifies Onnoghen’s Suspension
ABUJA /LAGOS – Comrade Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has said that Friday’s ruling on the appeals filed by Justice Walter Onnoghen, former Justice of Nigeria (CJN), sounded contradictory.
Adeniran, who spoke to Saturday INDEPENDENT after the Appeal Court ruling, maintained that the ruling could be said to be have been overtaken by events, as Onnoghen had resigned.
He maintained that Onnoghen during trial at the Code of Conducted Tribunal (CCT)admitted to having committed the offences he was charged with, adding that “if all the charges were found worthy by the CCT, it means the President was right in suspending him.”
He maintained that Nigerian people would have suffered if he had been allowed to continue to preside over the Supreme Court having been found to have committed the offences he was charged with.
Adeniran said: “It was not that Onnoghen’s suspension was wrong, but they might not have followed the proper procedure in doing so. This may be an administrative lapse that could be corrected.
“Once the substantial charges against Onnoghen had been proved, the procedural issue could be corrected.
“The CCT has done its bit. Onnoghen can appeal against his suspension. But, he has resigned already. I advice the CCT to be prepared for its defence in case it is called to defend itself in the Supreme Court.
“The President should also continue in his resolve to kill corruption. The National Judicial Commission (NJC) should uphold the judgment of the Appeal Court and ensure that the proper procedure is followed in the suspension, dismissal or retirement of Justice Onnoghen.”
Adeniran, however, stressed that CACOL would look at the Appeal Court ruling on Justice Onnoghen and come out with further statement on the issue.
Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal nullified the suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), and Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
The appellate court held that the suspension of Justice Onnoghen from headship of these apex judicial bodies based on the order made by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was in gross violation of the law of natural justice.
Delivering judgment on Friday, on the appeals filed by Onnoghen, Justice Stephen Adah, who ruled on one of the four appeals held that justice must not be shrouded in secrecy as done in the granting of the ex-parte application filed by the Federal Government.
The court said, from the record of proceedings, parties have joined issues, only for the Federal Government to go behind to obtain an order that affected the interest of the appellant.
More so, the panel held that Onnoghen’s fundamental right to fair hearing was violated.
The appellate court opined that the manner in which the suspension order was issued was shrouded in secrecy and raised questions.
In faulting the suspension, the court also said it was wrong in law for merit of a substantive matter to be taken at the interlocutory stage.
However, appellate court refused to make any order against the suspension because Onnoghen’s trial had been concluded and that an appeal on the substantive trial is pending before the court.
“Since the ex-parte order had been spent and cannot serve any useful purpose and judgment in the substantive trial had been delivered, the appeal is hereby struck out”, Justice Adah held.
Similarly, Justice Adah in another appeal filed by Onnoghen on the bench warrant issued against him by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) struck out the appeal on the ground that the records of proceedings transmitted to the court did not show that bench warrant was issued and that there was no supplementary records to establish that warrant of arrest was issued.
“There is nothing in this appeal that requires the attention of the court, it is here by struck out”, Justice Adah held.
In the third appeal, which challenged the CCT’s decision to