GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki has been refrained from arresting and prosecuting the All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman Adams Oshiomhole by an Abuja high court over indictment contained in a white paper recently submitted to the Edo State government.
As the ongoing spat between the governor and his predecessor Mr Oshiomhole gets uglier by the day, the two men have stepped up their war of words over recent weeks. With the Edo State gubernatorial elections due in September this year, Mr Oshiomhole is trying to prevent Governor Obaseki from being returned as the APC candidate and the fight has got messy.
Mr Oshiomhole is backing Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a former secretary to the Edo State government as his candidate for governor. Mr Ize-Iyamu, left the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after he failed to secure Mr Oshiomhole’s support for his governorship ambition and contested the 2016 Edo State governorship election as a PDP candidate but was defeated by Governor Obaseki of the APC.
With the political temperature now very high, Mr Oshiomhole and his faction of the party have backed Mr Ize-Iyamu as their consensus candidate for the party primaries due to take place on June 22. However, Governor Obaseki is not letting things pass, as he sought to get his predecessor arrested for fraud committed under his watch while he was governor.
Mr Oshiomhole, however, won the first round of the legal battle as the court granted an interim injunction restraining Governor Obaseki from arresting and prosecuting him. Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled that the restraining order should subsist, pending the determination of whether or not the federal high court has jurisdiction to hear the suit filed by Mr Oshiomhole seeking to stop his prosecution.
In the white paper, Mr Oshiomhole was indicted for corruption by a panel of inquiry set up by Governor Obaseki and headed by Justice Oyomire. Alex Ejeiseme, the lawyer for the Edo State government, had challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case and sought to stop the ex-parte order from being granted in a motion of preliminary objection he brought before the court.
However, Justice Mohammed, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties in the case, ordered the respondents to stay action, as it relates to the subject of the case, pending the determination of whether or not the court has jurisdiction. He further directed the APC chairman’s lawyer to serve court documents on the case on all the respondents within 48 hours and then adjourned the matter for further hearing until June 17.
Mr Oshiomhole was Edo State governor between 2008 and 2016 before handing over to Governor Obaseki, his hand-picked successor. Over the last year, however, the two have fallen out, with each controlling different factions of the APC in Edo State.