By Simeon OSAJIE
In a bid to secure impeachment of the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today, 4th August, 2023 issued a temporary order stopping Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Governor of the state from the impeachment plot over their irreconcilable differences.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed issued the temporary order while ruling in a motion on notice filed by Comrade Philip Shaibu, praying the court to stop the move to ease him out of office by his principal.
In the ruling on the motion argued by Moses Ebute SAN from the Chambers of Ogwu James Onoja SAN in Abuja, Justice Mohammed directed the parties in the suit to maintain “Status Quo Ante Bellum”.
The order for the status quo ante bellum released is to be in force till the time the defendants shall show cause as directed in another ruling of the Court made on July 27, 2023.
The defendants are the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Edo State Security Service (SSS), Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly and the Chief Judge of Edo State as 1st to 5th Defendants respectively.
At Friday’s proceedings, the Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly was represented by his counsel, Okotie Eboh while the Chief Judge was represented by Francis Ogbe both who opposed granting of Shaibu’s request but lost in the court’s ruling.
After the ruling, Justice Mohammed shifted the hearing in the matter till August 10 and ordered that the IGP, SSS and Obaseki who were not represented in court be served with hearing notices.
Shaibu, in his originating summons, prayed the Court to determine whether, in view of the provisions of Sections 186 and 193 of the 1999 Constitution, Governor Obaseki has the power to instigate the IGP and SSS to harass, intimidate, molest and prevent him from accessing his office to carry out his constitutionally guaranteed duties.
He also asked the court to ascertain whether the Governor Godwin Obaseki has the power to instigate the Speaker and the Chief Judge to commence impeachment proceedings against him with a view to remove him from office on any other ground other than allegations of misconduct as contained in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Deputy Governor further prayed the Court to decide whether, in view of the provisions of section 193 of the 1999 Constitution, Obaseki can deliberately refuse to carry him along or inform him of the State Executive Council (SEC) Meeting or any other meetings or functions within and outside Edo without violating the express provision of the law.
Upon positive resolutions of the issues in his favour, Deputy Governor Shaibu asked the court to declare that the IGP, SSS and Obaseki lacked the power to intimidate, harass, embarrass or molest him.
He also sought the Court’s declaration that Obaseki, the Speaker and the Chief Judge lacked powers to impeach him on any grounds other than gross misconduct and that the Speaker and the Chief Judge at the same time, lacked requisite power to set up a 7-man panel of Inquiry on the same ground.
Among others, Shaibu requested for order of injunction restraining IGP, SSS and Obaseki and their agents and privies from harassing, embarrassing, intimidating and preventing them from stopping him to carry out his legitimate functions
He further prayed for an order of injunction restraining Obaseki, the Speaker and the Chief Judge from taking any action, plan or step on the impeachment plan and another order specifically stopping the Chief Judge from taking instructions from Obaseki and the Speaker to set up any panel of Inquiry for the purpose of impeaching him.