The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has refused an application for stay of proceedings filed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, against the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The court said the charges filed against Onnoghen are criminal in nature and the proceedings before the CCT cannot be stopped.
The court in a ruling on Wednesday said the request brought by Mr Onnoghen “was brought in a vacuum,” without a proper backing of legal provisions why it should have been granted.
According to the appellate court, Mr Onnoghen’s lawyers had argued that their application was brought because the tribunal, on January 14 refused to entertain their request challenging the jurisdiction of the court with other motions before proceeding with the main trial.
The court, however, read through the words used during the January 14 adjournment of the tribunal wherein the CCT slated January 22 for hearing of motions in the matter.
“Matter is hereby adjourned till Tuesday. Motions to be taken,” said Justice Abdul Aboki while reading through the tribunal’s ruling on January 14.
“The above stated decision is an adjournment for motions filed by the two parties,” the appeal court ruled.
According to the appellate court, the words used by the tribunal did not suggest the submissions made by the applicant. The court questioned the likelihood of its jurisdiction to grant such order as requested, given the evidence before it.
“A court has inherent jurisdiction to grant stay of proceedings where it is certified that enough evidence has been given for such,” said Mr Aboki who read the ruling with two other judges.
“Order for stay cannot be made in vacuum. It is a matter of law and fact,” the court ruled.
The court therefore decided that the application for stay of proceedings will not be granted and subsequently refused it.
The ruling implies that the CCT can now proceed with the trial of the chief justice for alleged false asset declaration. The CCT had postponed the trial based on last week’s directive of the appeal court.