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Shaibu’s Legal Counsel Withdraws in Protest During Panel Testimony of Assembly Clerk

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During the initial session of the impeachment panel established by Edo State’s Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, to investigate allegations against Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, a noteworthy incident unfolded.

The formation of the panel came after Shaibu was served with an impeachment notice by the State House of Assembly.

According to reports from NewsNow, the panel commenced its proceedings at the Judges Conference Hall in Benin City on Wednesday.

The panel is chaired by retired Justice S.A. Omonua, with members including Professor Theresa Akpoghome, Oghogho Ayodele Oviasu, Surveyor Andrew Oliha, Idris Abdulkareen, President Aigbokhian, and Mariam Erakhoba Ilavbare.

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

At the start of the session, Awoyale brought to attention a ruling from an Abuja Federal High Court. The ruling mandated the panel to provide reasons why an interlocutory injunction, maintaining the status quo on the impeachment proceedings pending the suit’s determination, should not be granted to Philip Shaibu.

Awoyale highlighted that the court issued the order on March 28, 2024, with the case adjourned to April 8, 2024.

He argued that in compliance with the Federal High Court order, his client could not participate in the panel’s proceedings until a decision was reached by the court.

During objections, Joe Ohiafi, legal counsel to the State House of Assembly, referenced Section 188 Sub-section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution, emphasizing that the panel’s proceedings should not be obstructed.

Following a brief adjournment, the panel ruled against the deputy governor’s counsel and upheld the State House of Assembly’s position.

Justice Omonua, the panel’s chairman, stated that the concerns raised by the deputy governor’s counsel pertained to fundamental human rights, not to halt the proceedings.

Subsequently, Shaibu’s counsel withdrew from the proceedings in protest of the panel’s ruling.

Counsel to the House of Assembly then transitioned into a witness role, creating a situation where the Assembly lacked legal representation.

Despite these developments, the panel continued with its activities.

Testifying as a witness, the deputy clerk submitted various documents, including a publication serving as a substituted impeachment notice and a lawsuit filed by Shaibu against the Inspector General of Police and others in 2023.

The panel admitted the documents as evidence and marked them as exhibits. The deputy clerk committed to providing original copies of certain documents at the next sitting.

Justice Omonua adjourned the session to Thursday, April 4, 2024, to allow Shaibu to respond to the allegations against him.

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