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Impeachment: Shuaibu says panel sitting against court order

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The Deputy Governor of Edo, Mr Philip Shaibu, on Wednesday, prayed the seven-member investigative panel on his planned impeachment to obey an interlocutory injunction of a Federal High Court, Abuja.

At its maiden sitting on Wednesday in Benin, Shaibu, through his lawyer, Prof. Oladoyin Awoyale, SAN, said the panel’s sitting to investigate him would amount to fait accompli.

He argued that there was a subsisting order of interlocutory injunction granted by an Abuja Federal High Court and further hearing had been adjourned to April 8.

Awoyale argued that with the court’s order, all parties are advised to obey the ruling.

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However, counsel to the House of Assembly and Deputy Clerk, Legal Department, Joe Oaifi, argued that the panel’s sitting was supported by Section 188 (10) of the constitution which foreclosed any court from preventing the House of Assembly and the panel from discharging its constitutional responsibilities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the State Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, constituted a panel headed by retired Justice S. A. Omonuwa.

The panel has the mandate to investigate the allegation of misconduct levelled against the deputy governor by the Edo State House of Assembly.

NAN reports that a federal high court in Abuja declined to grant an application by Shaibu, directing Gov. Godwin Obaseki, the House of Assembly and others in his case to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The development occurred after Justice James Omotosho refused to grant the oral application made by Shaibu’s lawyer, Awoyale, to the effect.

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NAN reports that the embattled deputy governor had, in a motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/321/2024, sued the Edo State Government, governor, house of assembly and speaker as 1st to 4th defendants.

Also joined in the suit are the clerk of the assembly, chief judge, Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and director-general of state security service as 5th to 8th defendants respectively.

In the motion dated and filed March 8, Shaibu sought an order of interim injunction restraining the 3rd to 5th defendants from interfering with the res (subject matter) of the originating summons.

He also sought an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants jointly or severally from taking any adverse actions in relation to any attempt or process targeted at his removal from office as deputy governor of Edo pending the hearing of the motion on notice.

He urged the court to make an order restraining the 1st to 8th defendants from preventing him from performing his official duties and discharging his responsibilities, including, attending the State Executive Council meetings/functions and other duties.

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NAN reports that Justice Omotosho had, on March 13, refused to grant the ex-parte motion after it was moved by Awoyale.

Instead, the judge ordered the lawyer to serve all the defendants with the processes and hearing notices and adjourned until March 18 for the hearing.

But on Tuesday when the matter came up, Awoyale told the court that he was unable to serve some of the defendants and the judge adjourned until today to hear another motion filed.

Upon resumed hearing on Wednesday, Awoyale informed the court that he had a humble application dated March 8.

He said the motion sought an order granting leave to them to effect service of the originating summons and other processes on the 1st and 2nd defendants by substituted means, through pasting the documents at the gate of Edo State Government House or by courier service.

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The senior lawyer said the motion also sought an order granting leave to effect service of the processes on the 3rd and 4th defendants by substituted means, through pasting it at the Edo State House of Assembly gate or by courier service.

He urged the court to grant their prayers.

He said the 6th, 7th and 8th defendants had been served in the matter.

Awoyale then prayed the court for an order for parties to maintain a status quo pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

He cited previous cases to back his submission.

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But Justice Omotosho turned down Awoyale’s request for an order for parties to maintain the status quo.

“Counsel, you know that it is not possible,” he said.

The judge held that the previous case cited by the lawyer was not applicable in the instant suit.

He said that in the authority cited about the military administrator of Lagos State, all the parties in the suit had been served, but in the present case, some parties were yet to be served.

“Today, we are just seeking leave to serve the parties by substituted means. So can this court grant this, the answer is no,” the judge said.

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Justice Omotosho, however, advised the lawyer to apply for a fiat, through the chief judge of FHC, so that their case could be heard during vacation as the court would commence its vacation on Friday.

The judge, who granted the leave for substituted service as prayed by the lawyer, adjourned the matter until April 15 for a hearing. (NAN)





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