Tension As Edo Assembly Impeaches Philip Shaibu As Deputy Governor

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The political atmosphere in Edo State took a new shape on Monday when the state’s House of Assembly impeached embattled Philip Shaibu as deputy governor, ending a long-drawn drama between him and Governor Godwin Obaseki.

He was impeached during the House’s plenary session in Benin City, the Edo State capital in a move that began months ago following the soured relationship between Obaseki and Shaibu.

Shaibu’s impeachment followed the adoption of the report of a seven-man committee set up by the chief judge of Edo State Justice Daniel Okungbowa to investigate allegations of misconduct against the deputy governor.

During plenary at the assembly complex in Benin City, the Edo State capital, the Majority Leader of the House Charity Aiguobarueghian said the report of the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry presented to the House had two findings and one recommendation.

Aiguobarueghian said that while the report of the panel was unable to establish the case of perjury levelled against the deputy governor, the panel found him guilty of disclosure of government secrets.

According to the report, the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry recommended that the deputy governor be impeached on grounds of disclosure of government secrets.

The Clerk of the House Yahaya Omogbai conducted a head count of the lawmakers who voted for and against the impeachment of Shaibu.

Eighteen out of 19 members present at plenary voted for the impeachment of the deputy governor while one abstained from the head count and voting process.

The clerk of the House stated that 2/3 (16 members of the House) was needed to carry out the impeachment.

The assembly then upheld and approved the recommendation of the seven-man panel and subsequently impeached the deputy governor.

The speaker Blessing Agbebaku has since directed Omogbai to forward copies of the impeachment to Governor Godwin Obaseki for his assent.

Monday’s impeachment comes as a Federal High Court in Abuja was to resume sitting in the lawsuit filed by Shaibu to challenge the Edo State House of Assembly’s plan to impeach him.

But in a swift reaction to his impeachment, Shaibu faulted the move which he said is a threat to the country’s democracy.

In a video post, the impeached Shaibu accused lawmakers of failing the state and those who elected them.

Last week, the Edo House of Assembly started impeachment proceedings against Shaibu. Twenty-one of the 24 lawmakers signed a petition to that effect.

They accused Shaibu of perjury and disclosure of the state government’s secrets.

During its plenary last Tuesday, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly Blessing Agbebaku told the lawmakers that the seven-day ultimatum granted to Shaibu to respond to the impeachment notice served on him had expired.

The speaker reminded lawmakers that the impeachment notice was served on Shaibu on March 6, 2024. But due to what he described as the deputy governor’s alleged evasion of service, the Edo House of Assembly ordered a substituted service.

Agbebaku said the substituted service was published in the Nigerian Observer and the Vanguard Newspapers on March 12, 2024. He said March 19, 2024, made it seven days.

The Majority Leader of the Edo House of Assembly Charity Aiguobarueghan then moved a motion that Justice Okungbowa be directed to set up a committee to probe the petition against Shaibu.

Obaseki, Shaibu Battle For Supremacy

Shaibu’s impeachment is a culmination of the political impasse between the deputy governor and his principal Godwin Obaseki.

The battle which witnessed several twists and turns, claims, counter claims, apologies, and court cases, was an offshoot of the duo’s tainted relationship owing to Shaibu’s plans to contest the Edo State governorship election billed for September.

Obaseki had claimed that Shaibu was planning a “coup” to unseat him. The latter also accused his principal of trying to instigate the Edo State House of Assembly to impeach him.

Shaibu later contested the PDP governorship primary and declared himself a winner in a parallel election. However, businessman Asue Ighodalo was declared as the party’s flagbearer for the exercise coming up later in the year.

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