The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned the trial of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), till Tuesday January 22, 2019.
Onnoghen is standing trial over charges related to alleged fraudulent declaration of assets.
The trial of the CJN had commenced earlier on Monday and Onnoghen was not present before the Honourable Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to answer a six-count charge filed against him by the Nigerian government.
The trial commenced at exactly 10am when the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, and two other members entered the courtroom.
At the hearing of the case, Wole Olanipekun (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), who led the defence counsel comprising 42 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and dozens of other lawyers, said the reason for Onnoghen's non-appearance was because he wasn't properly served.
Shortly after announcing his appearance, Olanipekun informed the court of the defendant's interlocutory application challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the matter. He argued that service of the charge was not effected on Justice Onnoghen, insisting that the whole process was defective and that the CJN cannot be in court when he has challenged the validity of the proceeding.
Olanipekun stated that the defendant was not served personally as required by law, adding that they are not in court for arraignment, but to challenge the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the case. He asked the court to uphold the dignity of the law, noting that the case is a criminal one and the defendant must be personally served.
In his submission, Aliyu Umar (SAN), the prosecution counsel, told the court that the defendant directed the court officials who went to serve him to give the summons to his personal assistant.
Umar said they expected the defendant to tell the court that he was served, but he decided to tell the court that he was not served personally. He noted that if the defendant is demanding his right to be served personally, then they would oblige him that request and serve him.
The CCT eventually adjourned till January 22, 2019, for hearing on the motion challenging the court's jurisdiction to hear the case.