The Federal High Court in Abuja will today (Monday) resume sitting in the lawsuit filed by the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, challenging the move by the state House of Assembly to impeach him.

Justice I. E. Ekwo had on March 28 adjourned till April 8 (today) for the defendants in the suit to appear before him to show cause why Shaibu’s prayer to halt the impeachment proceedings should not be granted.

However, the seven-man impeachment panel headed Justice Omonuwa (retd.) ended its sitting on Friday after Shaibu failed to appear before the panel that probed allegations of perjury and leaking of the government’s secrets against him.

The panel, which had its inaugural sitting last Wednesday in Benin, ended its sitting on Friday with Shaibu or his counsel failing to show up.

The panel had adjourned till Thursday for Shaibu to open his defence and when he didn’t show up, he was given Friday as the final day to come and defend the allegation against him, which he failed to do.

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.

Counsel for Shaibu, Prof Oladoyin Awoyale (SAN), attended the Wednesday (the opening day) sitting but excused himself in the middle of the hearing after the panel refused his prayer to suspend the proceedings pending the outcome of a lawsuit in Abuja.

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

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

In his submission,  the Deputy Clerk told the panel that Shaibu leaked the Edo State government’s secrets in the affidavit he filed in support of his suit in Abuja. He said Shaibu tendered documents relating to the State Executive Council’s meeting.

According to Ohiafi, Shaibu violated the Oath of Secrecy he took and acted contrary to the provisions of  Schedule 7 of the 1999 Constitution.

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

Ruling on the development, the Chairman of the panel noted that “the panel adjourned sitting for the last time for today (Friday) to allow the respondent to defend himself.

“The panel shall retire to go and write its report as required by the constitution.”

A member of the administrative staff of the panel, who pleaded anonymity, told journalists present in the courtroom that the panel would forward its report to the Edo State Chief Justice, who set up the investigative panel.

However, The PUNCH gathered from a source close to the House of Assembly that the lawmakers were also waiting for the report of the impeachment panel to get to the Assembly as soon as possible.

The source said the House was not in a position to determine when the report would get to it as it was the Chief Judge, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, who set up the panel independently.

“I can only say that the House of Assembly is also waiting for the report after the panel ended its sitting on Friday. It is the Chief Judge who set up the panel and the House cannot determine when the report gets to it,” the source said.