• Friday, June 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Ladi Adebutu, 9 others arraigned before Ogun High Court for vote buying

After court order, INEC lists Adebutu as Ogun PDP guber candidate

In a new twist to the election petition challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, the Federal Government on Monday arraigned Ladi Adebutu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 governorship election, and nine others before an Ogun State High Court for vote-buying.

According to reports, Adebutu, charged in absentia, sneaked out of the country following allegations of election malpractice and money laundering filed against him by the Federal Government.

Earlier, Yemi Sanusi, the Ogun State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had written a petition of vote buying against the PDP governorship candidate to the Inspector General of Police, which was investigated by the State Criminal Investigations Department in Eleweran, Abeokuta.

After the police CID completed its investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, swept in to file criminal charges against Ladi Adebutu and his co-defendants at the Court.

However, the case was adjourned on Monday by Hon. Justice Abiodun Akinyemi sitting in Court 4 of the Ogun State High Court, Abeokuta, owing to the inability to serve Adebutu with the charge sheet as he remains at large.

This happened despite the presence of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th Defendants in the persons of Ogunbona Hammed, Tiamiyi Waleed, Egunsola Owolabi, Sanni Adejoke, and Malik.

Read also: PDP’s Ladi Adebutu tenders 8,000 exhibits to challenge Abiodun’s re-election

They, however, pleaded not guilty to all four counts, and their counsel, Muyiwa Obanewa, subsequently urged the court to grant bail to the defendants.

Hon. Justice Akinyemi answered the prayer of the defence council by granting the accused 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 to September 26, 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 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.”

Added to the above charge, the defendant, Adebutu was 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.