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Court bars Obaseki from initiating alleged impeachment moves against deputy


Solomon Odeniyi and Adeyinka Adedipe

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday stopped the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and the state House of Assembly from initiating any alleged impeachment process against his deputy, Philip Shaibu.

Shaibu had filed a motion on notice and motion ex parte praying the court to stop the commencement of an alleged impeachment process against him.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/1027/2023, the Inspector-General of Police, Department of State Services, Edo State governor; Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly and the Chief Judge, Edo State, are the first to fifth defendants respectively.

Ruling on the motion on notice, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed directed the parties in the suit to maintain “Status quo ante bellum”.

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By the order, parties are to remain in the positions they were before Shaibu’s suit.

The court said the order remained in force till the defendants shall show cause as directed in another ruling of the court made on July 27, 2023.

At Friday’s proceedings, Moses Ebute (SAN) from the chambers of Chief Ogwu Onoja (SAN) represented the deputy governor; the Speaker was represented by his counsel, Okotie Eboh, while the Chief Judge was represented by Francis Ogbe.

Ogbe and Eboh opposed the granting of Shaibu’s request. The judge however ruled in Shaibu’s favour.

The judge, after the ruling, adjourned the hearing till Thursday, August 10 and ordered that the IGP, DSS and Obaseki who were not represented in court be served with hearing notices.

Shaibu, in his originating summons, prayed the court to determine whether in view of the provisions of sections 186 and 193 of the 1999 Constitution, Obaseki had the power to instigate the IGP and DSS to harass, intimidate, molest and prevent him from accessing his office to carry out his constitutionally guaranteed duties.

He also asked the court to ascertain whether the governor had the power to instigate the Speaker and the Chief Judge to commence impeachment proceedings against him to remove him from office on any other grounds other than allegations of misconduct as contained in section 188 of the 1999 constitution.

The deputy governor further prayed the court to decide whether, in view of the provisions of section 193 of the 1999 constitution, Obaseki can deliberately refuse to carry him along or inform him of the State Executive Council meeting or any other meetings or functions within and outside Edo without violating the express provision of the law.

Upon positive resolutions of the issues in his favour, Shaibu asked the court to declare that the IGP, DSS, and Obaseki lacked the power to intimidate, harass, embarrass, or molest him.

He also sought the court’s declaration that Obaseki, the Speaker, and the Chief Judge lacked power to impeach him on any grounds other than gross misconduct and that the Speaker and the Chief Judge at the same time lacked the requisite power to set up a seven-man panel of inquiry on the same grounds.

Among others, Shaibu requested for an order of injunction restraining IGP, DSS, and Obaseki and their agents and privies from harassing, embarrassing, intimidating, and preventing them from stopping him to carry out his legitimate functions.

He further prayed for an order of injunction restraining Obaseki, the Speaker, and the Chief Judge from taking any action, plan, or step on the impeachment plan and another order specifically stopping the Chief Judge from taking instructions from Obaseki and the Speaker to set up any panel of inquiry for the purpose of impeaching him.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Andrew Okungbowa, could not be reached for comment.

However, a top government source accused Shaibu of acting in view of the next governorship election in the state.

The source added that the deputy governor was aware that the zoning formula in the Peoples Democratic Party was against him, hence the move.

“Going to court is a preemptive move to prevent impeachment and keep his position. This was someone who boasted over two months ago of using the Wike system in Edo. I can tell you that Shaibu is (allegedly) in talks with the APC at the national level to defect. He has also been in talks with members of the PDP from the state who have defected to the APC.

“He is doing this because he is aware of the zoning system in PDP which will not favour him and has been uncharitable to the party. He started his surreptitious move immediately after the 2023 presidential election by forming a campaign group in all the wards across the state.”

When contacted, Shaiub’s CPS, Musa Ebomhiana, said, “No comments please. Thanks for your concern.”

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