Chris Uche, a senior advocate of Nigeria, who spoke minutes after the hearing of the case against Onnoghen, has said although the CJN appeared before the CCT voluntarily, independence of all arms of government should be respected.
Recall Naija News had earlier reported that Justice Walter Onnoghen, suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, has arrived the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja, today.
Uche further said there is more to the trial than meets the eye while adding that the defence is challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.
He also said the defence is challenging the competence of the CCT chairman to preside over the matter.
He said: “The honourable chief Justice of Nigeria appeared before the tribunal voluntarily.
“And for us, we will begin by saying today is indeed a very sad day for the judiciary, a very sad day for democracy, a very sad day for Nigeria.
“The struggle you can see the bar carrying on here is nothing but struggling for the maintenance of our independence. It is a struggle for the maintenance of the rule of law. It is a struggle for the separation of powers.
“Today, his lordship had to suffer the indignity in coming before the tribunal to take his plea but we are very very happy this has happened because the world will eventually know that there is more behind this prosecution.”
Further citing section 292 of the constitution as amended, Uche said, all his team is asking for in this matter is for due process to be taken into consideration.
“Today, the plea has been taken, arraignment has also taken place and the matter has been adjourned to the 11th day of March 2019, for all the other motions,” Uche said.
“We are challenging the jurisdiction of this tribunal and the competence of the Chairman to continue with this trial.
“Section 292 of the constitution has entrenched how a chief justice of Nigeria can be removed again there is an exparte order upon which he has been removed so which other living by example?”
“I make bold to say that whatever is happening, our government must live by example, our lawyers are prepared and what we are here for is to fight for due process,” he the defence lawyer concluded.
However, Onnoghen, who pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge of non-declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, was immediately granted bail on self-recognition by the tribunal following a short oral application by the defence counsel, Chris Uche (SAN).