The Federal Government on Monday arraigned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2023 governorship election in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, and nine others before an Abeokuta High Court on alleged vote-buying charges.
Adebutu was charged in absentia, as he left the country shortly after the election because what he claimed attempt to arrest him by agents of the state government.
It would be recalled that Adebutu, some months ago, 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, 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 in Eleweran, Abeokuta.
Upon the conclusion of investigations, the Federal Government, through the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Federal Ministry of Justice, filed criminal charges against Ladi and his co-defendants at the High Court sitting.
When the case came up before the High Court Judge, Abiodun Akinyemi sitting in Court 4, it was adjourned till Monday, July 10, 2023, due to the inability of the court to serve the defendant, Adebutu and his co-defendants with the information sheet.
However, as of the time the matter was called on Monday, Adebutu remained at large while the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th defendants, in the persons of 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 bail to the defendants.
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.
The Judge, 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 until 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.
The particulars of the offense showed that Adebutu and the co-accused “on or about March 18th at Ibara, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired among yourselves to corruptly give gifts in the 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 endeavor 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.
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