Appeal Court condemns ‘secret’ CCT sitting suspending Onnoghen, but refuses to rule on it

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal on Friday declined ruling on the status of the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal suspending the embattled Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Mr Onnoghen was suspended on January 25, based on an order of the tribunal led by Danladi Umar.

The appeal court in a unanimous decision agreed that the decision taken “in secret” for the suspension of Mr Onnoghen should not be so because “justice should not be shrouded in secrecy”

The tribunal however said the case before the tribunal is only on the validity of the ex-parte motion and since the main matter has already been decided, the matter is already spent.

The court is currently ruling on a number of appeals from Mr Onnoghen.

The court first determined the application challenging the decision of Mr Umar to remain on the panel of the tribunal, despite a request for him to step down.

Mr Onnoghen had approached the appeal court after the CCT allowed an ex-parte application seeking his suspension on January 25.

The application was granted on January 23 in a private session at the tribunal.

It was based on the CCT ‘secret’ order that President Muhammad Buhari suspended Mr Onnoghen.

The judges said the issue for determination is whether the ex-parte order granted was valid or null and void.

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“We have reviewed the arguments of counsel in this appeal. The order was a product of an ex-parte motion,” the court ruled.

They added that previous rulings had decided on what an ex-parte motion is.

“The record before us show that the appellant had not been arraigned before the order was made.

The court noted that the ex-parte order was given in ‘secret.’

The judges, however, added that since the case has already ended, the request regarding the ex-parte motion is already spent and they would not go into the details of what its effects are.

The appeal court had reserved judgment in the appeal on February 27 for a date to be communicated to parties.

More details later…

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