CJN drags FG to Appeal Court, fails to secure order stopping CCT trial

0
117
Justice-Walter-Onnoghen

…As ASUU says Those who pulled out of varsities strike will regret it***

Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday, failed to persuade the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja to stop the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, from proceeding with his planned arraignment today.

The appellate court, in a ruling by a three-man panel of justices, said it would refrain from making such order pending the hearing of an appeal the CJN lodged to challenge the six-count charge the Federal Government preferred against him before the CCT. 

Onnoghen had through his team of lawyers, led by Chief Adegnoyega Awomolo, SAN, made an oral application for the Court of Appeal to stop the CCT from going ahead with plans to dock him on the six-count criminal charge Federal Government entered against him, pending the determination of his appeal.

The Federal Government was cited as the only respondent in the appeal.

Awomolo applied for order to stop the the CCT trial, after Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Omonuwa, insisted that he would need three days to respond to the CJN’s appeal.

Omonuwa, who told the court that he was only served the processes yesterday morning, said his appearance in court was out of respect for the judiciary.

 He, therefore, applied for a short adjournment to enable him file a reply to the CJN’s motion.

Consequently, counsel to the CJN, Awolowo, SAN, said it was necessary for the appellate court to preserve the subject matter of the case before the CCT.

He urged the court to order the CCT to keep the proceedings before it at abeyance, pending the disposal of the appeal. However, the appellate court panel, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, after a brief meeting among themselves, declined the request.

“We are of the view that no form of order shall be made at his stage pending hearing of motion on notice adjourned till January 24,” Justice Aboki held.

In the meantime, since the Academic Staff Union of Universities commenced its nationwide strike on November 5, 2018, at least six universities have pulled out of it and opened their doors to students.

When contacted, the ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the institutions that pulled out of the strike due to pressure from their vice-chancellors, or governing councils, would regret their actions in the future.

Ogunyemi said, “Those universities perceived as pulling out are certainly not against what we are asking for. Our members are in institutions like the Obafemi Awolowo University, which decided to work against us and deliberately sabotaged our efforts to reposition the universities.

“Those who said they do not agree with us are not against the funds for revitalisation that we are demanding. They are not against academic allowances or the payments of shortfalls that we ask for. They are not against fixing our universities.

“A lot of factors have to be considered when we talk about some universities pulling out. It is not that they actually mean to do so. Some intervening forces or variables may be at work. There are cases where vice-chancellors are overzealous, although they will be the greatest beneficiaries of what we are asking for. Some institutions were compelled by their governing councils to resume academic activities. In other situations, some governors or vice-chancellors deliberately created problems for us.

“Those vice-chancellors usually end up regretting their activities, but that does not stop us from resorting to our in-house procedure in dealing with chapters that pull out of national strikes. They will all be subjected to our in-house procedures.”

Ogunyemi also said that 90 per cent of the union’s members were still in support of the strike and they were not bothered about chapters that pulled out.

“Over 90 per cent of our members are still together and that is good enough for us because what we are doing now is a movement and those who fail to participate will regret their actions. They know that when the Federal Government releases funds for revitalisation, all public universities will be covered.  The conscience of those who refused to participate in the strike will continue to prick them. Those who sabotaged us will have a moral burden and that is what we have always told them.

“If  you go to state universities, many of the new projects you will see are technically being funded with capital funds from grants coming from NEEDs assessment and TETFund.  If such universities are being forced to pull out, you will know that it is always against the wish of our members. We are not bothered,” he said.

Vanguard with additional report from Punch