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Panel gives Edo deputy governor, Shaibu last chance to defend self

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The seven-man panel set up by the Edo State Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, to investigate the allegation of gross misconducts levelled against the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, on Thursday fixed Friday, April 5, 2024, for final adjournment for the deputy governor to defend himself.

The panel took the decision when it resumed its sitting on Thursday, and the deputy governor and his counsel were absent.

The chairman of the panel, Justice S. A Omonuwa (retd.), said that the panel would wait to see if the defendant would open his defence and thereafter called for the defendant.

When it became apparent that the defendant, Shaibu, was absent and was not represented, Justice Omonuwa called for appearance for the plaintiff, the Edo State House of Assembly, which initiated the impeachment process.

The Legal Officer, Edo State House of Assembly, N.U. Ibrahim, announced his appearance for the Assembly with two others.

The chairman then ruled that the panel would still adjourn to give the defendant the opportunity to appear before it to present his defence.

“The panel is adjourned for the last time to April 5, 2024 at 12 noon, to allow the defendant to present his defence,” Justice Omonuwa stated.

It would be recalled that at the inaugural sitting of the panel on Wednesday, Shaibu’s counsel, Prof Oladoyin Awoyale (SAN), took the leave of the panel to excuse himself and the defendant from continuing with the pane’s proceedings.

Awoyale hinged his stance on his submission that all parties in the matter ought to obey the order of an Abuja Federal High Court which asked the parties to appear before it to show cause why it should or should not grant the enforcement of fundamental human rights prayer Shaibu tabled before the court.

While Awoyale (SAN) admitted his error before the panel that there was no injunction by the Abuja court restraining the panel as he had erroneously told the panel, he, however, maintained that since the court had asked all the parties to come before it on Monday, April 8, 2024, the panel ought to obey that call.

As the panel overruled his submission and upheld the argument of the counsel for the House of Assembly, Joe Ohiafi, that the constitution foreclosed any court form stopping the Assembly and the panel from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, the senior lawyer took his leave of the panel.

Thereafter, Ohiafi opened the case for the plaintiff and closed it with a prayer to the panel to hold that as provided for in the constitution, only the state House of Assembly could determine what constitutes gross misconduct, stressing that by attaching documents relating to the Edo State Executive Council to the case he filed in the Abuja Federal High Court, Shaibu had breached his oath of office.

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