July 10, 2023

FG arraigns PDP’s Adebutu, 9 others for vote buying



….as PDP witnesses admit not reading witness statements at Ogun Tribunal

By James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta

The Federal Government on Monday arraigned the Ogun State governorship candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 election, Ladi Adebutu and nine others before an Ogun State High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, for vote buying.

Adebutu, who was charged in absentia, left the country in April this year.

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 Adebutu and his co-defendants at the High Court sitting.

The case was initially adjourned till Monday, 10th of July 2023, by Justice Abiodun Akinyemi due to the inability of the court’s process servers to serve Adebutu and his co-defendants with the information sheet.

However, as at the time the matter was called on Monday, Ladi 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 were present.

They pleaded not guilty to all the four counts charges preferred against them and their counsel Muyiwa Obanewa subsequently urged the court to grant them bail.

The prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs while noting that Ladi Adebutu is still on the run, said he was not opposed to the granting of bail to the defendants.

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, therefore, adjourned the case till the 26th of September 2023 for a 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 Endowment 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.

Meanwhile, at the resumed sitting of the State Governorship Tribunal in Abeokuta on Monday, one of the witnesses, Ibuowo Ogunbowale, from Sabo Sagamu, during cross-examination was accused of disrupting the electoral process after realizing that his party (PDP) was losing at his polling unit.

Ogunbowale was cross-examined by one of the counsels to the respondents, Mrs Folake Akinlawon, and agreed to be a member of PDP and a former aspirant on the platform of the party, though he denied his involvement in the crisis that rocked his polling unit.

Another witness, Adeleye Ayomide, also from Sagamu and a member of PDP, who was cross-examined by INEC and APC counsels affirmed that his lawyer gave him the witness paper and was not aware of the content, while he shockingly confessed that he didn’t agree with the provision of the electoral law which stipulated that voters should quietly vacate polling units after voting.

None of them worked as party agents during the polls nor confirmed being molested in any form during the exercise to establish a case of violence against their members as it was alleged by their party.

Another PDP witness, Kehinde Soboyejo, also opted for cutlass as an object of oath-taking.

However, it was revealed after being cross-examined by INEC counsel that he registered in two polling units.

In another development, Adijat Ayodele, who was also called to testify in favour of PDP admitted not to have read her witness statement before appending her signature.

In the same vein, Faisal Yusuf, from Ijoko, Ifo local government, who also came to testify in favour of PDP told the tribunal that he had been a trader for the past 30 years, but contrary to his claim, his voter’s card marked BT 591 read that he was a ‘civil servant’.