Federal Government Amends Charges in Alleged Financial Inducement Case
In a significant legal development, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the 2023 general election in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, was presented before a state High Court in Abeokuta on Tuesday, alongside nine co-defendants. The charges, initially filed in July 2023, were amended by the Federal Government in connection to allegations of financial inducement of voters during the March 18, 2023, governorship election in the state.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Adebutu had been absent during the initial arraignment of the other nine defendants in July 2023, reportedly being out of the country at that time. During the Tuesday hearing, the Federal Government’s Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court about the amendment to the charges and sought its acceptance, a request that was not contested by Gordy Uche, counsel to the defendants.
Justice Abiodun Akinyemi granted the application and proceeded to take pleas from Adebutu and six other defendants present in court. All defendants, including Adebutu, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Federal Government, in the suit marked AB/10c/2023 (FRN vs Adebutu & Ors), alleges that Adebutu instructed the issuance of 200,000 preloaded ATM Verve cards with N10,000 each through his bank. These cards were purportedly distributed on the day of the election across the state with the intent to induce voters.
Adebutu’s counsel requested bail on self-recognizance, emphasizing that he was served on Tuesday morning and voluntarily appeared in court. Jacobs did not object to the bail application, and the judge granted Adebutu bail in the sum of N1 million, with one surety in like sum, adjourning the case until Feb. 7 for trial.
After the court session, Jacobs confirmed that Adebutu was served on Tuesday, while Uche expressed satisfaction that Adebutu voluntarily presented himself in court, dispelling speculations about his whereabouts. Uche maintained that the charges against his client had nothing to do with money laundering.