Shaibu’s lawyer withdraws in protest as Assembly Clerk testifies before panel

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There was mild drama at the inaugural sitting of the impeachment panel set up by the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, to investigate allegations against the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.

The constitution of the panel followed the impeachment notice served on Shaibu by the State House of Assembly.

The panel commenced its sitting at the Judges Conference Hall in Benin City, on Wednesday.

The panel has retired Justice S.A. Omonua (rtd) as chairman, while other members are Professor Theresa Akpoghome, Oghogho Ayodele Oviasu, Surveyor Andrew Oliha, Idris Abdulkareen, President Aigbokhian and Mariam Erakhoba Ilavbare.

The deputy governor was represented by his counsel, Prof Oladoyin Awoyale, SAN, while Joe Ohiafi, the Deputy Clerk, Legal, represented the State House of Assembly.

At the commencement of the sitting, Awoyale drew attention to an Abuja Federal High Court ruling that ordered the panel to show cause on why an interlocutory injunction to maintain status quo on the impeachment proceedings, pending the determination of the suit, should not be granted to the plaintiff (Philip Shaibu).

Awoyale averred that the order was given by the court on March 28, 2024 while the case had been adjourned to April 8, 2024.

He opined that in line with the Federal High Court order, his client would not be able to participate in the panel’s proceedings, until the court decides otherwise.

“I submit respectfully that further taking part in this proceeding will amount to fait accompli, a situation of hopelessness,” he said.

He urged the panel to wait for the court’s decision.

In his objection, counsel to the State House of Assembly, Joe Ohiafi, cited the provisions of Section 188 Sub-section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

Ohiafi, who said the panel is sui generic as its proceedings cannot be frustrated by anybody, added that by the section of the constitution, no proceedings or determination of the panel of this nature set up by the House of Assembly shall be questioned by any court.

The panel, in its ruling after a short adjournment, overruled the submission of the deputy governor’s counsel and upheld the submission of counsel to the House of Assembly.

The chairman of the panel, Justice Omonua ruled that the issues raised by the deputy governor’s counsel bordered on his client’s fundamental human rights and not that the panel should stop its proceedings.

Drama, however, ensued immediately after the panel’s ruling as Shaibu’s counsel withdrew from participating in the proceeding.

“We will not be able to take part in this proceeding when the order of a competent court was not complied with by the panel.

“All we are saying is that parties should obey orders of competent courts,” he added.

Another drama also ensued as the counsel to the House of Assembly suddenly turned to a witness.

In his response, the deputy clerk, who had earlier introduced himself as counsel to the House, suddenly introduced himself as a witness to the complainant, the Assembly.

This, however, left the Assembly without a counsel.

However, despite the development, the panel continued with its proceedings.

Testifying as a witness, the deputy clerk tendered a Vanguard newspaper publication dated March 12, 2024, which served as a substituted impeachment notice on the deputy governor by the State House of Assembly.

He also tendered a suit filed against the Inspector General of Police and four others by the deputy governor in 2023 over his alleged non-invitation to attend the State Executive Council meeting by the governor, as well as other government activities and functions.

Also tendered by the witness as evidence was the attendance record of the State Executive Council meeting dated July 19, 2023.

The panel admitted all the documents and marked them as exhibits.

When asked of the original copies of the State Executive Council meeting attendance sheet, he promised to make them available at the next sitting.

When also asked how, as a staff of the House of Assembly, he knew what is happening in the Government House, particularly the date for EXCO meetings, he added that the House has a daily routine of what is going on in Government House.

He alleged that the suit instituted against the Inspector General of Police and four others by the deputy governor, where he divulged official secrets of the State Government, was a violation of the Oath of Office he took and the 7th schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also told the panel that the complainant is not calling any other witness.

Chairman of the panel, Justice Omonua, adjourned sitting to Thursday, April 4, 2024, to enable the respondent, Shaibu, to respond to all the allegations levelled against him.



Source link: Nigerianeye

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