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IMPEACHMENT: Panel gives Edo Dep Gov, Shaibu, last chance to open defence



The seven-man panel set up to probe allegations of perjury and leaking of government’s secrets against Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, has given the embattled deputy a last chance to open his defence after failing to ahow up before the panel on Thursday.

The retired Justice S. A. Omonuwa-led panel, which had its inaugural sitting on Wednesday in Benin, had adjourned till Thursday for Shaibu to open his defence.

It will be recalled that the Edo State House of Assembly, which is the petitioner in the case, had on Wednesday opened and closed its case, paving the way for Shaibu to defend the allegations levelled against him.

However, at the resumed hearing on Thursday, neither Shaibu nor his lawyer, Prof Oladoyin Awoyale (SAN), showed up.

Awoyale, who attended the Wednesday sitting, had excused himself in the middle of the hearing after the panel refused his prayer to suspend the proceedings pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed in Abuja by Shaibu, challenging the impeachment move against him by the state Assembly.

The panel chairman, Justice Omonuwa, had upheld the opposition to the suspension prayer by the Assembly, represented by its Deputy Clerk, Joe Ohaifa,

After Awoyale excused himself, Ohaifa went on to state the Assembly case against Shaibu.

Read also: Rivers APC accuses Gov Fubara of plot to cripple assembly, amid alleged revived impeachment threats

Ohaifa, in his submission, told the panel that Shaibu leaked the Edo State government’s secrets in the affidavit he filed in support of his suit in Abuja.

According to him, Shaibu rendered documents relating to the State Executive Council’s meeting, adding that Shaibu violated the Oath of Secrecy he took and acted contrary to the provisions of Schedule 7 of the 1999 Constitution.

The panel, after hearing the Assembly’s case, adjourned till Thursday for Shaibu to enter his defence.

Neither he nor his lawyer, however, showed up on the adjourned date.

At Thursday’s proceeding, the Assembly was represented by its Legal Officer, N.U. Ibrahim, who appeared with two others.

However, when it became apparent that the defendant was absent and was not represented, Justice Omonuwa then ruled that the panel would further adjourn for the last time to give Shaibu the opportunity to defend himself.

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

The impeachment panel was raised by the Edo State Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, at the instance of the state Assembly, which on March 5 commenced impeachment proceedings against Shaibu.

The Assembly said the impeachment proceedings were based on a petition accusing Shaibu of perjury and leaking the government’s secrets.

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