The illegally suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has filed a motion at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) asking that the tribunal’s Chairman, Danladi Umar, recuse himself from his ongoing trial.
Backstory: The suit which was filed before the tribunal yesterday, posited that the tribunal’s Chairman is unfit to handle the trial, as he is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charges of fraud, which comes two years after Umar had been cleared of bribery and racketeering by the Commission.
Filing the case in pursuant to Rule 12(1) nd (1A) of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the suspended CJN also accused Umar of bias going into the case against him.
“The applicant is seeking an order of this honorable tribunal for the honorable chairman of the tribunal, Honorable Danladi Umar, to disqualify/recuse himself from further participating in the adjudication of this case on the grounds of real likelihood of bias,” the suit read.
Reiterating his lack of confidence in the tribunal’s head, the suit also stated that Umar had already constructively convicted Onnoghen way before he was arraigned, without a proper defense.
The suit also makes reference to Umar’s ongoing bribery case with the EFCC which involves the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), who happens to be the prosecutor and complainant in the ongoing Onnoghen trial.
“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.”
The suit also revealed infractions on the part of the tribunal’s Chairman who had facilitated the removal of Onnoghen from the Chief Justice position, without a proper trial, a move Onnoghen claims was motivated by his need to “please his masters”.
Bottom Line: It was the CCT chair who recommended Onnoghen’s suspension supposedly because he has a case against him. So it makes no sense for the chair to himself comfortably preside over any matter when he too has a case against him.