Impeachment: Court to hear Shaibu’s suit against assembly, others April 19

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A Federal High Court in Abuj la  has fixed April 19 for hearing of a suit filed by the impeached Deputy Governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu, against the state house of assembly and others.

The matter, which was before Justice Inyang Ekwo, was on Friday fixed for hearing after a team of lawyers, including Alex Ejesieme, SAN, showed up to seek a date for the case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observes that though the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/405/24, was not listed on the cause list, the lawyers, who said they were for the defence, came to the court.

Shortly before the judge rose, one of the lawyers told Justice Ekwo that the matter was scheduled to hold on Thursday but due to the public holiday, the court did not sit.

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“So in obedience to court, we came today,” he said.

But Justice Ekwo, who held that he could not preside over a matter that was not in the file, directed them to liaise with the court registrar for the next adjourned date.

The matter was consequently fixed for April 19 for hearing.

NAN reports that in the suit dated March 26 but filed March 27, Shaibu sued the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police; State Security Service (SSS) as 1st and 2nd respondents.

He also joined Hon. Justice S.A. Omonua (rtd.), the Chairman representing himself and members of the Panel of Seven Appointed by the 4th Defendant; the Chief Judge of Edo; and Prof. Theresa Akpoghome as 3rd to 5th respondents.

Shaibu, in the suit filed by O.A. Gbadamosi, SAN, also listed Mr President Aigbokhian; Mr Oghogho Ayodele Oviasu and the Edo State House of Assembly as 6th to 8th respondents respectively

In the originating motion on notice, a declaration that the threat and failure of the 3rd to 8th respondents to give him a fair hearing in the impeachment proceedings commenced by the 8th respondent is illegal, unconstitutional, and a gross violation of his fundamental right to fair hearing, pursuant to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

He sought a declaration that the failure of the 8th respondent (assembly) to serve the purported impeachment notice on him personally and on each member of the House of Assembly, in line with Section 188(2) of the 1999 Constitution is a violation of his right to fair hearing.

He also sought a declaration that the inclusion of the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents as chairman and members of the seven-member Investigation panel to investigate allegations contained in a purported impeachment notice to the applicant is tainted by a reasonable likelihood of bias and will result in a violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing, guaranteed by virtue of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.”

He sought an order directing the respondents not to take any further steps in violating his fundamental right to fair hearing, guaranteed by virtue of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

He also sought an order directing the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents to recuse themselves from sitting as Chairman and members of the 7-Man Investigating Panel appointed by the 3rd respondent, on account of the likelihood of bias on their part against him, among other reliefs.

Giving seven grounds of argument, Shaibu averred that before now, he had never been confronted with any of such notice or allegations of misconduct or abuse of office or any allegations at all, whether as deputy governor or acting governor.

He said he had not been served with any letter/notice as required by Section 188(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and no privilege had been accorded him by the assembly to provide answers to any purported allegations to warrant a process targeted at his removal from office as deputy governor.

“The 3rd respondent via a letter dated 25th March, 2024 was appointed by the 4th respondent as the chairman of a panel of seven persons to investigate the allegations contained in a purported impeachment notice, which is yet to be personally served on the applicant.

“The 3rd respondent is a retired judicial officer and community leader from Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo Central Senatorial District, where there is strong clamour against the gubernatorial ambition of the applicant.

“The 3rd respondent appears to have been given the hatchet job of recommending the removal from office of the applicant, in order to weaken his political ambition of becoming governor of Edo State.

“The 4th respondent being a protégé of the 3rd respondent, appointed him as chairman of the Investigating Panel, when other persons he offered the same appointment rejected it, because it was a politically motivated job,” he said, among other grounds.

NAN reports that Shaibu was, on Monday, impeached by the state’s house of assembly after the seven-man panel found him guilty of perjury and leaking of the government’s secrets.

The retired Justice Omonuwa-led panel, which had its inaugural sitting on April 3 in Benin, ended its sitting on April 5 with Shaibu or his counsel failing to show up.(NAN)

By Taiye Agbaje

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