The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday struck out four appeals filed by ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, in relation to his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The three-man bench led by Justice Stephen Adah, in the four unanimous judgments, held that three of the appeals had become academic since the trial had been concluded by the CCT.
One of the appeal was ruled to be incompetent.
But delivering judgment on the appeal challenging the January 23, 2019 ex parte order made by the CCT for the suspension of the ex-CJN, Justice Adah, who read the lead judgment, held that the order was issued in breach of the appellant’s right to fair hearing.
President Buhari had acted on the order to suspend Onnoghen and had sworn in Justice Tanko Muhammad as the acting CJN on January 26.
Justice Adah noted that the order was not only made when the defendant had yet to be arraigned before the CCT, it was obtained in a manner “shrouded in secrecy and clandestine maneuver.”
He noted that while all the parties to the case during the January 22, 2019 proceedings of the trial agreed with the tribunal to have the case adjourned till January 25 for the hearing of pending applications, the prosecution went behind the defendant to obtain the ex parte order on January 23.
Justice Olabisi Ige, who read the lead judgment in another appeal, also held that the CCT ought to have been bound by the various court orders from the National Industrial Court and the Federal High Court stopping the trial.
The judge held that the tribunal ought to have “tarried a while” and file an appeal to the Court of Appeal to have the orders set aside, instead of ignoring the orders.
However, all the justices, including Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, who delivered the lead judgment in another appeal, held that there was nothing wrong in the CCT’s decision to hear the appellant’s notice of preliminary objection along with the prosecution’s interlocutory motion on notice.
They also ruled that the CCT rightly applied the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act by refusing the defendant’s application for stay of proceedings.
Justice Adah, in another judgment, dismissed Onnoghen’s appeal challenging the warrant of arrest issued against him by the CCT.
The appeal was struck out on the basis that the appellant failed to present a copy of the arrest before the court.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has yet to fix a date for the hearing of Onnoghen’s appeal challenging his conviction by the CCT.