The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed May 17, 2019, to deliver judgement on the suit filed by the government of Cross River State seeking to set aside the six-count charge of non-assets declaration against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
According to Premium Times: The suit filed by the Attorney-General of Cross River State on behalf of the state government is challenging the suspension and trial of Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The suit, dated January 22, 2019, and marked SC/45/2019, has the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants.
But the Federal Government has asked the apex court to dismiss the suit as the plaintiff has no locus standi to institute it.
Meanwhile, when the matter came up for hearing yesterday, counsel for the plaintiff, Locius Nwosu (SAN), adopted his brief of argument in urging the court to grant the reliefs sought by the state.
On his part, counsel to the defendants and the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Akpata, argued his notice of preliminary objection in urging the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
In a notice of preliminary objections filed by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Federal Government further challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter on the grounds that “there is no dispute between the defendants in this suit and the plaintiff as envisaged under Section 232(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It is also the contention of the Federal Government that “the subject matter of this suit is personal to Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel and does not in any way affect the Cross River State government as to confer it with the locus to institute this suit.
“The reliefs and claims made herein by the plaintiff are not for the benefit of Cross River State but personal to Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel.”
Besides, Akpata informed the apex court that the subject matter of the suit was already before the Court of Appeal, which has reserved judgement. He submitted that the action of Cross River State amounted to “forum shopping and an abuse of court process.”
Regardless, the plaintiff’s counsel, Nwosu, insisted that the case of his client was different from the appeal filed by Onnoghen at the Court of Appeal: “My lords, the suit is not about Justice Onnoghen but about the interpretation of the Constitution.”