The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen has filed a motion at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) seeking that Danladi Umar, the CCT Chairman, disqualify himself from prosecuting him.
Danladi Umar is facing charges of corruption by the EFCC after he was allegedly accused of receiving N10million in 2012 from one Rasheed Taiwo, who was at the time facing false assets declaration charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Onnoghen filed the case in pursuant to Rule 12(1) and (1A) of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2016 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the tribunal. According to the suit:
“The applicant is seeking an order of this honourable tribunal for the honourable chairman of the tribunal, Honourable Danladi Umar, to disqualify/recuse himself from further participating in the adjudication of this case on the grounds of real likelihood of bias.
“The CCT Chairman has constructively convicted the CJN sought to be arraigned before him without either hearing from him or his being formally arraigned.
“The learned chairman of the CCT (Hon Danladi Umar) is a tainted arbiter by reason of a criminal charge at the instance of the EFCC for receiving bribe money in the sum of N10m in charge number: CR/109/18 in FCT High Court by an organ under the supervision of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“Incidentally, he (AGF) is the prosecutor and complainant in this matter such that with such a sword of Damocles hanging over him, and himself not just recusing himself from a quasi-judicial function, he is himself not likely to be a fair arbiter, but instead more likely to trade in the charges against him in a quasi-plea bargaining in the charge against him and enter summary conviction in this proceedings to please the prosecutor.”
Onnoghen maintained that he has no confidence in the chairman of the tribunal to do justice between parties in his case as he is a man on a mission to please his masters.
The suit was supported by an affidavit deposed to by Blessing Ezedimma, a lawyer, who stated that the CCT Chairman granted an ex-parte order removing Onnoghen from his position without trial.
“The chairman authored and signed an ex parte order directing a man that had not been convicted to step aside on account of a charge not yet before him as the CJN, which is itself a conviction prior to arraignment and plea or trial.”
The suit was signed by Onnoghen’s counsel: Chris Uche (SAN), Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), Okon Efut (SAN), Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN), Noah Abdul and George Ibrahim.