The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen has appealed against the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on the applications he filed against the charge against him.
Justice Onnoghen had through his lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), moved two applications before the CCT yesterday, one of which was challenging the constitutional jurisdiction of the tribunal, with the other asking the chairman to disqualify himself on allegations of bias.
However, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar said the ruling on the applications would be delivered along with the final judgment on the case at the end of the trial.
In a notice of appeal sighted by our reporter, Onnoghen told the Court of Appeal that the tribunal chairman and members erred in law in the interpretation of Section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) when they deferred ruling on his two applications until final judgment.
The notice of appeal, which was personally signed by Justice Onnoghen, sought for an order of the appellate court to set aside the decision of the tribunal.
Meanwhile, when the matter came up for hearing yesterday before the tribunal, Justice Onnoghen was absent due to ill health.
Awomolo, while explaining the reason for the absence of his client, told the tribunal that he was informed Monday night that his client was suffering from tooth-ache. He tendered a medical report to support the claim.
Prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN) confirmed that he got a copy of the medical report concerning the defendant which was signed by Dr. Francis Uche, the Medical Director of Ideal Dental Services.
He said any observation he would have made was effectively wiped out by what the doctor said about the blood pressure of the defendant which was said to have risen to 410/121. “As an old man, I know how dangerous that could be,” he said.
Umar added that the medical report suggested that Onnoghen was given 72 hours bed rest, adding that the presence of the defendant is as important as the prosecution to continue with the trial, although prosecution witnesses were available to go ahead.
“Under the circumstance, I will concede that there is a justification for the defendant to be absent.
“Taking into consideration the order of the court yesterday (Monday) on day-to-day proceedings and the health condition of the defendant, I urge the court to adjourn the matter till Monday when we can have 5 days straight,” the prosecutor said.
The tribunal chairman thereafter held that in view of the medical report explaining the absence of the defendant in court and in consideration of the level of his blood pressure, and with the prosecution having agreed for an adjournment till Monday, the tribunal conceded to the adjournment of the matter to Monday, March 18 for hearing.