A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Okon Efut, who led the former Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen’s defence team at Thursday’s judgment proceedings of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, has indicated that the conviction of the former CJN would be appealed at the Court of Appeal.
Speaking with journalists on the premises of the CCT after judgment was passed on his client on Thursday, Efut said, “We know that all is not over in this matter. The wheel of justice grinds slowly. It grinds slowly but surely. But this is not a matter that will end here.
“We shall avail ourselves of all the processes and the hierarchy of the judiciary.”
He described the judgment as unconstitutional, adding that it was in breach of the ex-CJN’s right to fair hearing.
He also said the judgment was premeditated, saying it had been passed as far back as January 23 when the tribunal ordered Onnoghen’s suspension without hearing him.
He said, “The conviction is unconstitutional. It is a breach of fair hearing.
“Before this day, on January 23, 2019, the same judgment had been passed, removing the Chief Justice of Nigeria without fair hearing.
“So, it was fait accompli, it was premeditated. Judgment has been passed before today. Today’s judgment is just a formality.
“We hold the view that the tribunal has not only breached the Constitution of Nigeria, it has breached the fundamental principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience.
“It has not only been able to pass judgment, it has convicted on an offence that was never charged.
“This is an erosion of the fundamental principles of our Constitution and until some questions are answered, for instance, why is it that the due course of justice was not allowed to flow?”
The CCT, led by Danladi Umar, had earlier convicted Onnoghen on charges of breach of code of conduct for public officers by failing to declare five bank accounts containing huge sums of money as part of his assets.
The tribunal ordered as punishment, the removal of Onnoghen as the CJN, chairman of both the National Judicial Council and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
It also banned him from holding public office for the next 10 years, and ordered the forfeiture of the funds in all the five bank accounts he was said to have failed to declare.