By Toby Prince
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) breached the right to a fair hearing of ex-Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen when it ordered his suspension based on the false assets declaration charges filed against him at the tribunal.
In its ruling on Friday, a three-man bench led by Stephen Adah, held that the CCT’s ex parte order breached the ex-CJN’s right to fair hearing.
It, however, struck out the suit, ruling that the substantive suit had been heard and concluded at the CCT.
The court ruled that there was no need to go into the merit of the interlocutory appeal challenging the ex parte order of the CCT which ordered Onnoghen to step aside as the CJN.
The CCT subsequently convicted Onnoghen on six counts bordering on false assets declaration.
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The tribunal ordered that he should be removed from office and banned from holding public office for 10 years.
It also ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five accounts which the defendant was said to have failed to declared as part of his assets.
However, Onnoghen appealed the judgement, seeking reliefs on 16 grounds.
He asked the appeal court to for an order declaring that the lower tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Onnoghen also asked the appeal court for an order declaring that the tribunal ought to have recused itself from proceedings before it.
The appeal court is yet to give its final ruling on Onnoghen’s appeal.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Onnoghen on January 25, citing an order from the CCT.