The suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, has filed an application before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) demanding the disqualification of the Tribunal’s Chairman, Danladi Umar, “on the grounds of real likelihood of bias.”
E24-7 gathered that Onnoghen filed the motion notice, dated Monday, February 4, 2019, “seeking an order of this honourable tribunal for the honourable chairman of the tribunal, Honourable Danladi Umar, to disqualify/recuse himself from further participating in the adjudication of this case on the grounds of real likelihood of bias.”
The motion was signed by Chris Uche (SAN), Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), Okon Efut (SAN), Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN), Noah Abdul and George Ibrahim.
According to the defence, Umar had “constructively convicted the CJN sought to be arraigned before him without either hearing from him or his being formally arraigned.”
Last month, the President suspended Onnoghen based on allegation that he violated the code of conduct for public officers by not declaring his assets as required by law.
The federal government is prosecuting Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which recommended the suspension of the senior judicial officer.
Justice Tanko Muhammad has since been sworn in as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.
But Onnoghen, in this latest application, noted that the CCT chairman directed President Buhari to suspend the CJN and appoint Justice Muhammad without recourse to the constitution or the National Judicial Council.
Onnoghen said: “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.
“Incidentally, he (AGF) is the prosecutor and complainant in this matter such that with such a sword of Damocles hanging over him, and himself not just recusing himself from a quasi-judicial function, he is himself not likely to be a fair arbiter, but instead more likely to trade in the charges against him in a quasi-plea bargaining in the charge against him and enter summary conviction in this proceedings to please the prosecutor.
“The applicant (Onnoghen) has no confidence in the chairman of the tribunal to do justice fairly between parties in this case as he is a man on a mission to please his masters.”