Nigeria wants top judge suspended during graft trial

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Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen
Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen

Nigeria’s government wants the country’s top judge to be suspended pending the outcome of his fiercely-disputed trial on corruption charges, a court was told on Tuesday.

Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen went on trial last week at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he is facing six charges relating to the non-declaration of foreign currency bank accounts.

The case is politically charged as the government has been accused of trying to influence the judiciary by removing Onnoghen, who would rule on any election disputes.

Africa’s most populous nation goes to the polls to elect a new president and parliament on February 16. Concerns have already been expressed about attempts to rig the result.

Prosecutor Aliyu Omar told the tribunal that Onnoghen had been formally served with a summons but he was not present for Tuesday’s hearing.

“What we are asking for is for him to step aside and we have filed an application for that,” he said.

“We are not asking him to resign but we are asking him to step aside for the period of this trial.”