Four persons who allegedly bribed voters to ensure the return of the incumbent governor of Osun State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola for a second term in office during the governorship election held in the state on July 16, 2022, were arraigned on Monday.
They were arraigned by the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Mathias Agboola of the state high court sitting in Oshogbo, Osun State.
They are Adeyemo Bahiru Abiodun, Abidogun Ismail, Jimoh Kazeem and Yekini Nurudeen Abiodun.
The suspects were arrested on July 16, 2022, by operatives of the EFCC at different polling Units following credible intelligence that the defendants were trading votes for cash to induce electorates to vote Governor Oyetola for a second term in office.
Adeyemi, Abidogun and Jimoh were arrested at Polling Unit 002, Ward 2, Ababu, Isale Osun, while Abiodun was picked up at Unit 2, Isale Agbara, Oshogbo.
A statement by the Commission said the audacious move by the EFCC is to check the practice of vote buying and other financial inducements that undermine the integrity of our elections in the country.
The anti-graft agency said it is important to state that those who offer bribes for votes are as guilty as those who receive such gratifications during elections.
While the charge against Adeyemo, Abidogun and Jimoh was consolidated, Yekini was prosecuted on a separate charge before the same court.
The charge against the trio of Adeyemo, Abidogun and Jimoh reads, “Conspiracy to bribe contrary to section 121 (5) and punishable under section 121 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022
“Particulars of the Offence indicated that “Adeyemo Bashiru Abiodun, Abidogun Ismail and Jimoh Kazeem on the 16th of July 2022 in Oshogbo within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to corruptly make monetary gifts to voters at unit 2, ward 2, Isale Odun, Oshogbo, Osun State in order to induce them to procure the return of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola to an elective office of the Governor of Osun State at the Osun State Gubernatorial Election”
For Nurudeen, the Charge sheet read, “Bribery contrary to Section 121 (1) (a) and punishable under Section 121 (1) (d) of Electoral Act, 2022
Particulars of the Charge showed that “Nurudeen Abiodun on 16th July 2022 at Oshogbo within the Judicial Division of this Honourable Court corruptly made a monetary gift to voters at Polling Unit 002, Ward 8, Are Agbo Isale Agbara in order to induce them to procure the return of Adegboyega Oyetola to an elective office of Governor of Osun State Gubernatorial Election of 16th July 2022”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Upon their pleas, Sesan Ola and Andrew Akoja who prosecuted the cases for the Commission asked the court to fix a date for a hearing and remand the defendants to the Correctional Center pending trial.
In response, the defence represented by N. T Adekilekun and M. O Sambo, through respective oral applications prayed the Court to admit the defendants to bail.
They argued that the defendants had earlier been granted court bail by a Kwara State High Court, Ilorin and had not breached the terms.
The defence counsel assured that the defendants would always be available in court to stand their trial.
Opposing the bail application, the prosecution counsel contended that electoral offences were grievous crimes and urged the court to consider the weight of the evidence before it and the prevalence of the offence.
In his ruling, Justice Agboola granted the defendants bail in the sum of N2 million with one surety each in like sum.
The surety, who must not be below Grade Level 13 in the State Civil Services, must deposit their Identity card with a recent passport photograph to the Registrar of the court.
The two cases were adjourned till November 21 and 28, 2022 for the commencement of trial.