Onnoghen Absent in Court, Criticisms May Force FG to Soft- pedal on Trial

By Uche Mbah

The level of anger, uproar that trailed the announcement of plans to drag the Chief Justice of The Federation, Walter Onnoghen, to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, coupled with International pressures, may have decided the rumored tactical withdrawal of the federal Government from the case.

It will be recalled that one Dennis Aghanya, former Media Aid to President Buhari, wrote a petition against the Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN, to the Code of conduct Tribunal. Aghanya, the Executive secretary of a Civil Society Group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), wrote the petition under the auspices of the group.

Aghanya accused the Chief  Justice of non-full declaration of assets.Onnoghen faces a six count charge of non-disclosure of many bank accounts connected to him as a Supreme Court judge. According to the charges, he may have used the account for money laundering.

Onnoghen was to have appeared in the Code Of Conduct Tribunal today, 14th January 2019, but was represented by the foremost senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun, who let a team of 47 other Senior lawyers to the Tribunal.

During the short sitting of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, the tribunal judge, who also once presided over the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, insisted that Onnoghen must appear to the court in the next court day, which he adjourned to 22 January 2019. Last weekend, the South South governors met on the issue, and in their communiqué advised him not to appear before the tribunal. It was not clear whether his absence was in respect to their advice.

The Niger delta Militants also rose from a meeting and declared that Buhari has shown his aversion to appointment of people from the zone, citing the retirement of Mathew Seifa as DSS officer to bring in his retired junior officer as replacement. They insisted that Buhari must leave or they will resume hostilities.

But indications are that pressures are coming from both local and international communities to force the president to soft pedal on the issue. The Saraki case ended in the Supreme Court freeing him. But Olanipekun team are arguing on the jurisdiction or lack thereof of the CCT to try Onnoghen.

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