Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Tuesday, failed to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for the Federal Government to open its case against him.
Onnoghen, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Adegboyega Awolowo, SAN, notified the Mr. Danladi Umar-led three-man panel tribunal that he developed an acute toothache he said needed urgent medical attention.
To establish his claim, counsel to the CJN who is answering to a six-count charge of not declaring his assets, tendered a medical report that was issued to him by the hospital where he was said to be receiving treatment.
Reading through the letter, the lead prosecution lawyer, Aliu Umar SAN, said he would concede to the report that the defendant had a medical challenge.
He told the tribunal that he would have raised an objection against Onnoghen’s failure to appear for his trial on the basis of the medical report, if not for the fact that the doctor indicated that the defendant had a high blood pressure measured at 410/121.
The prosecution counsel said he was therefore constrained to reserve his observation on the medical report since the doctor equally indicated that the embattled CJN would need a bed rest for at least 72 hours.
Upon an inquiry from the tribunal, FG’s lawyer, Mr. Aliyu Umar, SAN, acknowledged that he was served with a photocopy of the said medical report.
Following an agreement by both the defence and the prosecution, the CCT Chairman, Justice Umar, reluctantly adjourned the matter till March 18.
“In view of the medical report presented by the defendant and the fact that the request was conceded by the prosecution, the tribunal hereby adjourns matter till Monday, March 18th as requested by the prosecution,” Umar said.
Onnoghen is facing trial on alleged false asset charges. The Federal Government had in the charge marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, alleged that he failed to declare his assets as prescribed by the law, as well as operated five foreign bank accounts, contrary to section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
The tribunal had ordered a daily hearing of the matter on Monday, after reserving ruling in an application challenging its jurisdiction.