The All Progressives Congress (APC) has insisted that Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, accused of false declaration of assets, must stand trial.
Onnoghen was scheduled to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, but was not in court. His defence team, led by Wole Olanipekun (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), said the CJN could not appear in court as he was not served the court summons personally.
Onnoghen’s defence team had also challenged the CCT on jurisdiction for the case and the hearing was adjourned till January 22, 2019.
An earlier statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused APC of “desperation to replace Justice Onnoghen with a pliable CJN, who will execute their plots to use the courts to detain opposition leaders as well as vocal members of civil society during the elections”.
The APC, however, urged Nigerians to ignore the PDP, just as the party denied that Onnoghen’s arraignment was not based on ethnic or religious sentiments.
A statement by Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary, read: “We wish to put on record that the virulent attack that has come from the PDP in the wake of the trial of the CJN over alleged false asset declaration is particularly worrisome and suspicious when the PDP has in fact called for the removal of virtually all heads of government’s arms, particularly the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Inspector General of the Police over frivolous issues.
“While the will not be drawn into debates on the legality and sponsored conspiracies of the CCT trial, we insist that our democratic and constitutional institutions must be allowed to operate without interference and undue pressure from partisan and sundry interests as being done by the PDP and its cronies.
“The CCT trial is a legal matter, let the law run its course. The CJN must go through the instrumentalities of the courts, more importantly as an institution he represents. Indeed, this is the true test of our constitution, rule of law and will deepen democracy.
“Where there are contestations on institutional procedures, we must allow same institutions perform their functions unhindered, autocorrect if necessary and set good precedence on future matters. This is the only way we can build strong and lasting institutions.”