The last may just not have been heard in the raging feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu. Both camps were wrapped in anxiety, suspense and apprehension ahead of today’s resumption of sitting of the state House of Assembly.
Shaibu is battling perceived impeachment moves against him. The apprehension is over whether or not the lawmakers will embark on the purported impeachment plot of the deputy governor despite the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court directive of maintaining “status quo ante bellum” pending the determination of the suit filed by Shaibu to stop the alleged plot to remove him.
However, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Blessing Agbebaku, said though the matter is in court, he cannot say much on the issue, adding there is no plan to impeach the deputy governor.
He told Vanguard on phone: “I don’t want to talk about it because the case is in court but there is no plan like that. There is no iota of truth about this issue of impeachment and the governor has no such plans because if there is anything like that, won’t I know? People are just carrying rumours.”
Legislators fault Shaibu on court action
Nevertheless, some lawmakers are not happy with Shaibu over his court action. “The deputy governor going to court is, on its own, impeachable”, a principal officer said.
Continuing, he said “When you see the contents of the court documents, they are all speculative and breaches of the oath of secrecy he swore to when he was inaugurated.
“There is no plan like that at all. It was shocking to us when we got the court papers. Going through the papers, the content is enough to even commence impeachment but there is nothing like that” he said.
Shaibu’s camp keeps mute
The camp of Shaibu has decided to remain silent so as not to aggravate the crisis. Contacted, a close ally of the deputy governor said: “We don’t want to aggravate the issue because the situation is delicate.”
Dep gov expected back today
Contrary to speculations that Shaibu ran away from the state, his aides said he has been in the United States of America, USA, to attend the annual Afemai World Congress, AWC, and he is expected back in Nigeria on Sunday and “we are expecting him to resume today (Monday).
“So we don’t know what is going to happen when he resumes based on the fact that we have heard that they are going to lock his office,” one of them said.
Will Obaseki move against Shaibu today?
There are fears that the state government would move against Shaibu this week barring last minute change of plan despite the pronouncement of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, which ruled last Friday that all parties maintain “Status Quo Ante Bellum”, pending the hearing slated for Thursday, 10Th August, 2023.
Recall that Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja issued a temporary order stopping the move by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to impeach Shaibu.
Shaibu approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the commencement of an impeachment process against him.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1027/2023, the Inspector General of Police; State Security Service; the Governor of Edo State; the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, and the Chief Judge of Edo State are the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants respectively.
Shaibu is seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants/Respondents or their agents from commencing an impeachment process against him.
He also prayed the court to restrain the governor of the state or other person acting on his order from harassing and preventing him from effectively discharging his duties as the deputy governor of the state.
In addition to the temporary order to maintain status quo ante bellum, in another ruling of the court made on July 27, 2023, the defendants were directed to show cause.
Why Obaseki, Shaibu’re bickering
Many political analysts predicted that they would fall apart particularly when it became obvious that Shaibu is interested in succeeding Obaseki in 2024.
However none of the analysts predicted that it would come so soon, about one year and four months to the end of their tenure.
Shaibu has been consulting within Edo, Nigeria and in the Diaspora about his ambition to succeed his boss in 2024. However, Shaibu’s ambition did not get the blessing of his Obasekil even though he told the governor he was still consulting.
From the governor’s end, his supporters claimed that he had concluded that the governorship would not be zoned to Edo North where immediate past governor and Senator, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Shaibu hail from.
Obaseki seems to be favouring Edo Central Senatorial District and analysts also argued that if by any chance it goes to Edo North, it should not be Etsako West where Oshiomhole and Shaibu come from.
Etsako East, Etsako Central, Owan West, Owan East and Akoko-Edo are the other local government areas that make up Edo North Senatorial District.
As a loyal deputy, who had enjoyed so much support from his principal that at a point Shaibu was seen as the most influential deputy governor in the country, which earned him several awards especially in the area of sports which the governor had given him freely to handle, it was gathered that the governor was miffed at his ambition.
It was gathered that the governor had also expressed his misgivings on his grip of the politics in Edo North as Vanguard gathered that he has been in charge of all appointments from Edo North yet, he has not been able to deliver in elections which it was gathered led the governor to insist that he should be meeting with stakeholders of the party in the area including people like Chief Dan Orbih, Pascal Ugbome, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe and others who are all from the area.
Multiple sources in Edo Government House told Vanguard that Shaibu approached the court on his purported impeachment to raise false alarm because he knew that his actions and utterances have been antithetical to what the administration of Obaseki stands for.
It is believed that he wants to keep his position as the deputy governor despite his alleged moves.
Some politicians alleged that Shaibu boasted recently that he would adopt the style of the former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike even as it was alleged that he was already in talks with the All Progressives Congress, APC, at national level to decamp allegedly using members of PDP from the state who had decamped to APC.
Shaibu’s aides come to his defence
A close political associate to Shaibu expressed shock that thoughts of impeaching Shaibu could be contemplated, saying that it is the right of Shaibu to aspire to any political office he desires.
He said: “Whatever the situation is, Comrade Shaibu has the right to contest, he said he is still consulting and that the response he gets from his consultation would determine his next line of action.
“We expected that some of these things will happen along the line but I didn’t expect it so soon, the governor still has over a year and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has not released the timetable for the Edo election and this is already happening.
“I can confidently tell you that those allegations against Shaibu are false.