Having listened to the preliminary objections filled by the defence counsel, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has adjourned the arraignment of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to Jan. 22.
The reason for the adjournment as discovered by Naija Politico was as a result of the argument that was filed by Chief Wale Olanipekun (SAN), the defence counsel that the CJN was not served properly.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Aliyu Umar (SAN) agreed to the fact that the defendant was not properly served with the required court processes as required by law as to make him appear before the tribunal today. He went further to make a request that the tribunal directs a fresh service on the Chief Justice of the Federation.
Naija Politico discovered that the CJN was absent from today’s proceedings on charges of non-declaration of his assets as provided for in the constitution.
But counsel to the CJN. Olanipekun contended that it is not the position of the law that the defendant be present, citing s. 266 ACJA which provides that defendant does not need to be present for an interlocutory application.
However, prosecution refers the tribunal to s.396 of the same Act which provides that nothing can happen in the absence of the defendant and refused to take his plea.
Olanipekun vehemently argued that the team for the defense appeared in court today to question the jurisdiction of the tribunal. he went further to add that going by the account given by the court official, the defendant was not served with the summons in person, but through his aide. But the prosecuting counsel insisted that the law provides that the defendant be only aware of the charges and that the defense by choice accepted that his aide receives the court processes on his behalf.
At the end, prosecuting counsel conceded that the charges and summons ought to have been served personally on the defendant, though this was after series of so many objections.
the prosecuting counsel conceded thus;
“By what the registrar has said, although the defendant was the one who directed his personal assistant to accept service on his behalf and what the law says is that he must be personally served. We agree that that the service should be properly done. The processes should be served personally on him.”
“If, after the service is done, and the defendant is not present, we can then argue whether or not he needs to be present on the grounds that he has filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court.”
It was on the basis of the above that the matter was adjourned till the 22nd of January, 2019. for proper service of the summons on the person of the Chief Justice of the Federation.