The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ordered the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to arrest suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
Onnoghen is facing six charges of non and fraudulent declaration of assets relating to his failure to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, as required by law.
President Muhammadu Buhari controversially suspended the top judge and inaugurated Justice Ibrahim Tanko as the acting CJN last month based on an order of the CCT, a move that has attracted outrage from opposition parties and the international community.
Since the case commenced at the CCT on January 14, 2019, Onnoghen has refused to show up for hearings, leading Justice Danladi Umar to insist at the last hearing that he must appear to enter a guilty or not guilty plea.
However, when the case resumed on Wednesday, February 13, Onnoghen was once again absent, leading the Aliyu Umar-led prosecution team to request a bench warrant to be issued against him.
In his ruling, Justice Umar directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, and other law enforcement agencies to arrest and produce Onnoghen before the tribunal during its next adjourned date of February 15.
"In view of the above, the tribunal having given the defendant opportunity to avail himself on several occasions and he failed; in the circumstance, the tribunal hereby issue bench warrant to the Inspector General of Police and other law enforcement agencies to bring the defendant to the Tribunal on Friday for his arraignment," he said.
Even though Onnoghen has filed an application before the tribunal challenging its jurisdiction to try the case, Umar said it will not be entertained until after he has entered a plea.
This was in agreement with the Aliyu Umar who argued that a defendant has to be present in court before any proceedings can be conducted in respect of a pending charge.