The trial of Nigeria’s top judge got underway in a case that’s prompted lawyers and opposition parties to accuse the government of trying to oust him and spark a constitutional crisis before next month’s presidential election. Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen didn’t attend the opening Monday in Abuja, the capital, where the Code of Conduct Tribunal is charging him for not properly declaring his assets. The trial was adjourned until Jan. 22, and the Federal High Court in Abuja later said it will hold a hearing on Jan. 17 into whether it can continue, Lagos-based Punch newspaper reported.
The Nigerian Bar Association described the decision to go after Onnoghen, who took up the post in March 2017, as an “assault, intimidation and desecration of the judiciary” by government agencies.
Nigeria’s election on Feb. 16 pits 76-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 72, as the top contenders. Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party has accused Buhari and his All Progressives Congress of clamping down on dissent and preparing to rig the vote, which they deny.