Catholic organisations urge Edo lawmakers to stop Shaibu’s impeachment


Seven Catholic organisations on Tuesday urged the Edo State House of Assembly to drop the impeachment move against the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.

Last Wednesday, the House of Assembly, commenced impeachment proceedings against Shaibu, accusing him of perjury and leaking of government’s secrets.

The impeachment notice is believed to be the latest development in the rift between Shaibu and his principal, Governor Godwin Obaseki.

There had been an uneasy calm between the deputy governor and his principal since last year when Shaibu declared his interest to join this year’s Edo governorship race.

The Assembly on Monday directed that the impeachment notice be published on national dailies (by substitution) as it has become to serve the deputy governor the letter in person.

Some of the catholic groups in the joint letter to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Blessing Agbebaku, included Catholic Action Nigeria, Catholic Lawyers, Catholic Men Organisation of Nigeria, Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria, Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria, Catholic Girls Organisation of Nigeria, and Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria.

Presenting the letter to Agbebaku in the presence of some principal officers of the House, Steve Apologun, who is the Benin Provincial president of the CMO on behalf of the groups, said there was the need for peace in the state ahead of the September 21 governorship election.

The letter written from the Department of Church and Society, Catholic Secretariat, Abuja also urged the Edo lawmakers to take into cognisance how Shaibu was prevailed upon to withdraw all court cases about his impeachment by religious leaders led by the Archbishop of Benin City, Augustine Akubeze, when the impeachment saga first started last year which he said Shaibu complied with.

While appreciating the legislative roles of the members of the state House of Assembly and their constitutional duties, they appealed for caution “to ensure that your legislative responsibilities are not perceived as a political witch-hunt against the deputy governor due to his political disagreement with the governor.

“We call for a careful approach on this matter with a focus on dialogue and peace, rather than creating further tension in the state.

“We would like to draw your attention to the fact that our Chief Shepherd, His Grace, Most Revd. Dr. Augustine Akubeze, Catholic Archbishop of Benin City, has tirelessly worked towards promoting peace and reconciliation between His Excellency, the governor, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy governor, Philip Shaibu. As part of the reconciliation process initiated by our Archbishop, there was a mutual agreement for the Deputy Governor to withdraw the legal action that sought to halt the initial alleged impeachment process.

“As Catholic lay faithful and eligible voters, we are saddened by the current impeachment process, which is perceived by the public as a political witch-hunt. This perception reflects disrespect towards our Archbishop and the intervention of other respected religious and traditional leaders in the state. Therefore, we humbly request your intervention and alignment with the peace process initiated by our Archbishop and other respected leaders within and outside the state.

“As leaders, our commitment lies in promoting peaceful coexistence and good governance. Once again, we assure you and the well-meaning residents of Edo State that we will fulfil our responsibility in the upcoming gubernatorial election to educate, sensitize, and mobilize our lay faithful and other voters in Edo State on the importance of identifying desirable qualities in prospective candidates and the need to support anyone found with integrity and the ability to deliver on their promises, regardless of political, tribal, and religious affiliations. This approach which will be applied to future general elections aims to ensure development and good governance in the state and our nation, Nigeria

“We pray for wisdom and discernment in your decision-making process and encourage you to consider this appeal with utmost seriousness and take the necessary steps towards fostering unity, collaboration, and progress for the benefit of Edo State and its people.”

Responding, Agbebaku said he was only a servant leader to the other 23 members of the house and that all of them would be involved and his responsibility is to implement the decisions taken by all of them.

He said, “Yes I am the head of this parliament, we are 24 in number, I am a servant to them all. It is the decision they take that I will follow,” he added.