Omobayo Replaces Shaibu as Edo Deputy Governor

37-year-old Godwin Omobayo was yesterday sworn in as Edo State deputy governor by the Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Iyobosa Okungbowa.

He replaced Philip Shaibu, who was earlier in the day removed from office by the House of Assembly.

Shaibu was recommended for impeachment by the panel set up by the CJ.

The lawmakers ratified the recommendation and sacked Shaibu.

Omobayo, an engineer, was Labour Party (LP) House of Representatives candidate for Akoko-Edo Constituency.

The new deputy governors said his kinsmen were excited about his appointment, being the first deputy governor from the area.

However, Shaibu vowed to fight what he described as his illegal removal, saying that it smacked of injustice.

In his 4-page acceptance speech, titled: “A Day of the Lord: A Day I Will Never Forget,” shortly after his inauguration at the New Festival Hall of Government House, Benin, Omobayo said the hitherto marginalised Akoko-Edo had made history.

He said: “For my people in Akoko-Edo, it has been joy and excitement. Since colonial times, when the LGA was created, no administration has bothered to tempt Akoko-Edo with the position of deputy governor, even for one day. Akoko-Edo has not produced a state governor, no federal minister or other high-ranking government officers, except for the constitutionally-mandatory ones.

“Etsako has ruled the state as governor. It has also been lucky to produce some military governors and vice military head of state and several ministers. Etsako has additionally produced two deputy governors of this state. Owan too has produced a deputy governor, some House of Assembly speakers, among other highly-placed government functionaries.

“This history is important to explain why my people are very excited about this appointment, even though it is for only a few months. In the six local government areas that make up Edo North Senatorial District, Akoko-Edo is the oldest and the largest in population, and in voting population. It is the third largest in population in Edo State.

“In 1963, Etsako and Owan were one division, and they had four members in the then Midwest House of Assembly. Akoko-Edo was also a division with four members in the same House of Assembly. Today, the number for Akoko-Edo has reduced to only two, while other LGAs have had their numbers doubled or even tripled. So, we place importance on the decision of the Obaseki-led administration and the PDP to consider Akoko-Edo for this position.”

Omobayo added: “My Principal, Governor Obaseki, has demonstrated from the outset of his administration that he is aware that Akoko-Edo is being flagrantly marginalised. He therefore, took practical steps to bridge the gap, as much as possible. His first Chief of Staff (CoS), Chief Press Secretary (CPS) and Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Research, Documentation and Writing were all from Akoko-Edo.

“He (Obaseki) has further entrenched the practice of appointing two commissioners from Akoko-Edo. In his time too, Akoko-Edo produced a Speaker of the House of Assembly, a deputy speaker and chief whip. And today, Akoko-Edo people have broken the yoke and shattered the jinx by producing a deputy governor in his time, on platter of diamond, designed by the Almighty and delivered by His Excellency.”

The new deputy governor acknowledged that the oath of office he took defined the legal limits that he could not exceed while in office.

How Shaibu was removed

Obaseki said the inauguration of the new deputy governor was in line with constitutional provisions, following the removal of Shaibu by Edo lawmakers.

At yesterday’s plenary, the lawmakers, having adopted the recommendations of the seven-man panel, Impeached the former deputy governor.

The House Majority Leader, Charity Aiguobarueghian (Ovia North-East 1), said the report of the panel had two findings and one recommendation.

Aiguobarueghian explained that the report of the panel was unable to establish the case of perjury levelled against Shaibu, but the panel found him guilty of disclosure of government secrets.

The majority leader moved a motion that the report be considered, seconded by the minority leader, Eric Okaka (Owan East).

The Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai, conducted a head count of the lawmakers, with 18 of 19 present lawmakers (excluding the Speaker) voting in support of Shaibu’s removal, while one abstained.

Omogbai noted that the votes of two thirds (16 of 24) of the lawmakers would be needed to remove Shaibu.

The Speaker, Chief Blessing Agbebaku, then directed the Clerk to forward copies of the impeachment to Obaseki for his assent.

Shaibu: My removal was illegal

Shaibu declared that he was illegally impeached over trump-up charges, saying that he will fight on without any fear of intimidation.

He described the impeachment as a dangerous descent into dictatorship, a threat to democracy and display of tyranny and oppression.

Shaibu said in a four-minute, fifty-second video: “I denounce in strongest term, the illegal impeachment by the Edo State House of Assembly over trump-up charges. This is not just an attack on me as an individual, but on the very democratic principles that we hold dear. It is a dangerous descent into dictatorship, and a threat to the foundation of our democracy.

“Let it be clear that this impeachment was hatched because of my ambition to contest the Edo State 2024 governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an ambition that is a legal right to all citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is a sad reality that in our political landscape, ambition is met with resistance, and those in power seek to silent opposition through illegitimate means. I have dedicated my life to serving the good people of Edo State with integrity and honesty. I have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of our citizens.

“I have upheld the values of democracy and justice, and yet, in return, I am faced with baseless accusations, and a blatant disregard for due process and rule of law.”

The former deputy governor insisted that the allegations brought against him were nothing more than a full screen to conceal the true motive behind the impeachment.

He said: “It (his removal) is a fragrant abuse of power, and a betrayal of the trust that the people of Edo have placed in their elected officials. We refuse to stay inactive, while our democratic institutions manipulate and exploit for personal gain.

“We will fight this injustice with every iota of strength in our being, for the sake of the people of Edo State, and the future of democracy.

“I call upon all well-meaning citizens of Edo and indeed all Nigerians, who believe in the principles of democracy and justice, to stand with us in this moment of crisis. We cannot allow tyranny and oppression to take root in our society. We must resist the forces that seek to undermine freedom and trample upon our rights.

“To the members of Edo State House of Assembly, who chose to forsake their oaths of office, and participated in this charade, history will judge harshly for your betrayal of the people who elected you to represent their interests. You do not have the power to silent the voice of justice and truth.

“I call upon the judiciary and all relevant authorities to intervene and uphold the principles of justice and fairness. Let the truth prevail over lies. Let the rule of law triumph over lawlessness. I am confident that the legal system will vindicate me, and expose the sham that has been orchestrated against me.”

Court order:

The interlocutory order by the Federal High Court, Abuja, directed the parties to appear before the presiding judge on April 8, 2024 (yesterday), to show cause why the relief sought by Shaibu should not be granted, particularly the enforcement of fundamental human rights.

Defendants in the suit before Justice Ekwo are Inspector-General of Police (IGP); Department of Security Services (DSS); Omonua, representing himself and the members of the panel; Edo chief judge, and the House of Assembly.

The interlocutory order ought to prevent the chairman and the unnamed three other members of the panel from participating in the impeachment proceedings, on account of bias.

On March 25, the Chief Judge of Edo State, reconstituted the seven-member panel, which he initially put together on March 22.

Two professors: Violet Aigbokhaebo and Boniface Onomion Edegbai, declined to serve on the panel to investigate the allegations, as contained in the March 6, 2024 impeachment notice by the members of Edo House of Assembly.

Okungbowa reconstituted another panel, in line with Section 188 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

On March 19, the House of Assembly, through a resolution by 19 of 24 members, directed the chief judge to constitute the seven-member panel.

Other members of the reconstituted panel were Prof. Theresa Akpoghome, Oghogho Ayodele Oviasu, Dr. Andrew Oliha, Idris Abdulkareen, President Aighokhian, and Mariam Erakhoba Ilavbare.

AA candidate condems impeachment

African Action Congress (AAC) governorship candidate Dr. Udoh Oberaifo condemned the impeachment, saying that due process was not followed.

He said in a statement in Benin, that Shaibu was not given a fair hearing, adding that the impeachment was a blatant disregard of the principles of justice.

Oberaifo said: “Of particular concern is the fact that the impeachment proceeded despite a pending case filed by the deputy governor at the Federal High court.”