PDP governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, arraigned for ‘vote buying’

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

The federal government had filed charges against Mr Adebutu and the other defendants at the court.

Mr Adebutu was finally charged in absentia on Monday as he has been out of the country since shortly after the 18 March poll.

He did not honour police invitation of allegations of electoral malpractices and money laundering over which he has been arraigned.

The allegations were raised in a petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state against Mr Adebutu and his party, the PDP, to the Inspector General of Police during March 18 election.

The APC petition, written by its state chairman, Yemi Sanusi, to the Inspector-General of Police, was investigated by the State Criminal Investigations Department, Eleweran in Abeokuta, after which the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Federal Ministry of Justice, filed the criminal charges against Mr Adebutu and the other defendants.

Justice Abiodun Akinyemi had earlier adjourned the matter till 10 July owing to the inability of the court’s process servers to serve Mr Adebutu and his co-defendants with the information sheet.

However, when the matter was called on Monday, Mr Adebutu remained at large while the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th defendants – Ogunbona Hammed, Tiamiyi Waleed, Egunsola Owolabi, Sanni Adejoke and Malik respectively were present.

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

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, did not oppose granting bail to the defendants.

Justice Akinyemi subsequently admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N100,000 and one surety each.

The court then adjourned the case till 26 September for a definite hearing.

According to the charge sheet of the case with no AB/10C/2003 dated June 2, Mr Adebutu and the other defendants face a four-count charge.

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, Mr 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.”

Mr 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.

Mr Adebutu narrowly lost the governorship election to Governor Dapo Abiodun of the APC and is currently pursuing his petition against the poll’s outcome at the election petition tribunal in Abeokuta.

Mr Adebutu and the PDP asked the tribunal to void Mr Abiodun’s victory on the grounds of alleged electoral malpractice and non-compliance of the poll with the electoral laws.

The PDP candidate had also accused Mr Abiodun and the APC of vote buying at the tribunal but the court refused to entertain it as it was not contained in their petition.

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