The deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop alleged plots by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to remove him from office.
In court filings dated 28 July, Mr Shuaibu’s lawyer, Ogwu Onoja, prayed the court to restrain Mr Obaseki, the State Security Service, the Inspector General of Police, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly and the State Chief Judge, who are defendants in the suit from preventing harassing him.
Mr Onoja also urged the court to stop the defendants “from intimidating, embarrassing and preventing” Mr Shuaibu “from carrying out the functions of his office as deputy governor of Edo State, including attending the state executive council meeting.”
In a motion ex parte, he further prayed to the court for an interim injunction restraining the defendants from “initiating impeachment proceedings against” Mr Shuaibu.
In an affidavit of urgency, Mr Shuaibu accused Mr Obaseki of “preventing” him from carrying out the duties of his office as deputy governor.
He said the governor was using the SSS and police to “harass, intimidate and embarrass” him.
The deponent averred that the Speaker of the state House of Assembly and Chief Judge of the State are acting in cahoots with Mr Obaseki to remove him from office as deputy governor.
“The 3rd defendant (Mr Obaseki) has hatched plans to impeach me, and the court needs to urgently intervene in restraining him and all the other defendants acting in concert with him,” Mr Shuaibu urged the court in the affidavit.
In an originating summons, the deputy governor urged the court to determine whether Mr Obaseki’s alleged action of using the SSS and police to prevent him from performing the duties of his office does not violate the Nigerian constitution.
“Whether the 3rd defendant” (Mr Obaseki) has the “powers to instigate” the parliament and state Chief Judge…” to commence impeachment proceedings against the plaintiff (Mr Shuaibu) with a view to removing him from office as the deputy governor of Edo State.”
The suit has not been assigned to a judge for a hearing.
With the governorship election due next year in Edo, Messrs Obaseki and Shuaibu appear to be locked in a succession battle.
Governor Obaseki, serving his second term, succeeded Adams Oshiomhole, now senator.
The pair, in their first term, were elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but fell out with their political godfather and former governor of the state, Mr Oshiomole.
In 2020, Messrs Obaseki and Shuaibu defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where they ran on the Party’s platform and defeated APC’s Osagie Ize-Iyamu of APC.
With Mr Obaseki due to relinquish power in November 2024, there are speculations that Mr Shuaibu intends to succeed his principal.
Impeachment of deputy governors by state parliaments in Nigeria is often induced by the governors.
In February 2022, the Zamfara State House of Assembly impeached the state’s deputy governor, Mahadi Ali, despite a court order stopping the exercise.
Mr Ali was at loggerheads with the then governor, Bello Matawalle, who had defected from the PDP to the APC.
The deputy governor had declined to cross with Mr Matawalle to the APC. Many believed Mr Matawalle orchestrated his deputy’s removal from office.