The President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government’s lead Prosecuting Counsel, Aliyu Umar, has conceded that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was not properly served with the summons to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja, today, Monday.
Umar conceded that the CJN was not personally served with the charges and the court summons, as required by the law.
He therefore, requested the 3-man Tribunal, led by Danladi Umar, to direct a fresh service on the CJN.
Recall, that Onnoghen was absent from the Monday’s proceedings scheduled for his arraignment before the CCT, on charges of non-declaration of assets.
Upon an inquiry by the Tribunal Chairman about Onnoghen’s absence from court, the Defence team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said that the CJN needed not to be present, having filed a motion to challenge the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Olanipekun stated that himself and other Defence Lawyers, only appeared in court, in protest against the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.
He also maintained from the account given by the court Official earlier in the proceedings, that the CJN was not served with the charges and and summons, personally, but through his Aide.
Olanipekun insisted that the Law requires that the defendant be personally served.
However, the Prosecuting Lawyer disclosed that the Law only requires the defendant to be aware of the pending charges, and that it was the CJN’s choice to ask his Aide to receive the charges and summons, on his behalf.
Meanwhile, after a back-and-forth argument that went on for about 45 minutes, the Prosecuting Counsel conceded that the service of the charges and the summons, ought to have been personally served on Onnoghen.
“By what the Registrar has said, although the defendant was the one who directed his Personal Assistant to accept service on his behalf, and what the Law says, is that he must be personally served.
“We agree that that the service should be properly done. The processes should be served personally on him.
“If after the service is done, and the defendant is not present, we can then argue whether or not he needs to be present, on the grounds that he has filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court.”