Federal government has arraigned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 governorship election in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu and nine others before an Ogun State High Court, Abeokuta for vote buying. Adebutu was charged in absentia.
A few months ago, Adebutu left the country, following allegations of electoral malpractices and money laundering preferred against him and his party by the federal government.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), through its Ogun State chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi, had written a petition to the Inspector General of Police over the vote buying allegation, which was investigated by the State Criminal Investigations Department Eleweran, Abeokuta.
Upon conclusion of investigations, the federal government through the Director of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice filed criminal charges against Ladi and his co-defendants at the High Court.
When the case came up before Justice Abiodun Akinyemi sitting in Court 4, it was adjourned till yesterday owing to the inability of the court’s process servers to serve Ladi Adebutu and his co-defendants with the information sheet.
However, as at the time the matter was called yesterday, Adebutu remained at large while the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th defendants in persons of Ogunbona Hammed, Tiamiyi Waleed, Egunsola Owolabi, Sanni Adejoke and Malik respectively were present.
They pleaded not guilty to all the four counts and their counsel Muyiwa Obanewa subsequently urged the court to grant bail to the defendants.
The prosecuting counsel Rotimi Jacobs while noting that Adebutu is still on the run said he was not opposed to the granting of bail to the defendants.
Hon. Justice Akinyemi subsequently admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N100,000 and one surety each who shall be either bondsmen or relatives of the defendants with evidence of payment of tax.
The court adjourned the case till September 26, 2023 for definite hearing.
According to the charge sheet of the case with no AB/10C/2003 filed at the high court and dated June 2, 2023, Adebutu, along with Messers Ogunbona Hammed, Tiamiyu Waliu, Egunsola Owolabi, Sanni Adegoke, Hon. Dare Lukman Ogunleye, Dayo Fasina, Wasiu Enilolobo and Malik Badmus, were being prosecuted on a four-count charge, namely one count of criminal conspiracy contrary to Section 121 of the Electoral Act, 2022, bribery contrary to Section 121 of the Electoral Act, 2022, and two counts of undue influence contrary to section 127 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to the particulars of the offence, Adebutu and the co-accused “on or about 18th of March at Ibara, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to corruptly give gifts in form of verve prepaid cards which had inscribed on them ‘Dame Caroline Oladuni Adebutu Memorial Endorsement Scheme for Less Privileged’ in order to induce voters to endeavour the return of PDP candidates during the gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in Ogun State.”
Adebutu was further accused of providing 200,000 prepaid verve cards loaded with N10,000 each and inscribed with the same name “for the purpose of corruptly influencing voters to vote for PDP candidates” during the said elections.
By Femi Oyeweso
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