Panel gives Edo deputy governor, Shaibu last chance to defend self

On Friday, April 5, 2024, the seven-member panel appointed by Justice Daniel Okungbowa, the chief judge of Edo State, to probe the gross misconduct accusation against Philip Shaibu, the state’s deputy governor, will adjourn for the last time so that Shaibu can present his defence.

The panel reached its conclusion upon Thursday’s return to session, without the presence of the deputy governor or his legal representation.

Justice S. A. Omonuwa (retd.), who presided over the panel, stated that they would await the defendant’s opening statement before summoning him.

Justice Omonuwa began the process of impeachment by requesting that the plaintiff appear before the Edo State House of Assembly on behalf of Shaibu when it became clear that Shaibu was neither present nor represented.

N.U. Ibrahim, who is the Legal Officer of the Edo State House of Assembly, together with two others, made an announcement about their attendance before the Assembly.

In order to allow the defendant a chance to appear before the panel and submit his defence, the chairman decided that the panel will still adjourn.

In order to give the defendant one final chance to offer his case, Justice Omonuwa postponed the panel to April 5, 2024, at noon.

During Wednesday’s first panel meeting, Prof. Oladoyin Awoyale (SAN), who is representing Shaibu, asked to leave the chamber so that he and the defendant could not continue with the proceedings.

Awoyale based his position on the argument that everyone involved should follow the Abuja Federal High Court’s decision that everyone involved should appear before the court to explain why they should or should not be granted the right to enforce basic human rights. This prayer was tabled before the court by Shaibu.

Although Awoyale (SAN) acknowledged his mistake in informing the panel that the Abuja court had not issued an injunction prohibiting their work, he insisted that the panel should follow the court’s order and appear before it on Monday, April 8, 2024, since it had requested that all parties do so.

The senior lawyer departed from the panel after it rejected his submission and supported House of Assembly counsel Joe Ohiafi’s contention that the judiciary could not impede the Assembly or the panel from fulfilling their constitutional duties, as stated in the constitution.

Following that, Ohiafi presented the plaintiff’s case and concluded by requesting that the panel uphold the constitutional right of the state House of Assembly to define gross misconduct. Ohiafi emphasised that Shaibu had violated his oath of office by including Edo State Executive Council documents in the case he filed in the Abuja Federal High Court.

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