Appeal Court dismisses Adebutu's Appeal on Vote Buying - The Top Society

Appeal Court dismisses Adebutu’s Appeal on Vote Buying


The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reinstated the vote buying accusations brought forward by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and their gubernatorial candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, against Dapo Abiodun from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice MB Idris, delivering the lead judgment, also affirmed another ruling by the tribunal that validated Governor Dapo Abiodun’s defense.

The appellate court gave the ruling Wednesday in an appeal marked: CA/IB/EPT/GOV/OG/03/2023, filed by Adebutu and PDP on the 6th of July, 2023, which was heard on August 3, 2023.

The appeal contested Justice A. Kanuza’s decision from the Ogun State Governorship Tribunal, issued on June 19, 2023, regarding allegations of vote buying during the March 18 Governorship election in Ogun State.

Initially, the tribunal favored the 2nd respondent, dismissing the petitioner’s response to the 2nd respondent’s reply to the petition.

However, the Court of Appeal panel, in a judgment authored by Justice M. B Idris and presented by Justice Aliyu Waziri, upheld paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, and 18 of Adebutu and PDP’s (Petitioners) response to the 2nd respondent’s reply to the petition.

The upheld paragraphs in the petitioners’ response pertain to various issues. Firstly, they address the claim that the 2nd respondent (Dapo Abiodun) submitted fake certificates to the 1st respondent (INEC). Secondly, they highlight incidents of violence and disruption of polling units by agents affiliated with the 2nd respondent. Additionally, the sustained paragraphs cover allegations of vote buying attributed to the 2nd respondent.

Moreover, these paragraphs encompass the petitioners’ defense concerning the accusation of vote buying that the 2nd respondent raised in his response to the initial petition. In essence, the sustained paragraphs of the petitioners’ reply address these specific allegations and provide their counterarguments or evidence to support their stance.

During the tribunal proceedings, Chief Gordy Uche, SAN, representing the Petitioners, contended that their response did not introduce any fresh information. Instead, it addressed the new point brought forward by the 2nd respondent in his reply, which was not originally part of the matters raised in the initial petition.

It’s worth noting that on May 22, 2023, Adebutu and PDP submitted a response to Governor Abiodun’s defense.

In this particular response, Adebutu and PDP, for the first instance, asserted that both Governor Abiodun and APC engaged in vote buying during the Ogun State gubernatorial elections held on March 18, 2023.

Upon receiving Adebutu’s response, Governor Abiodun’s legal team submitted an application to the Tribunal. They requested the complete removal of the response or, as an alternative, the exclusion of specific objectionable paragraphs from it.

Governor Abiodun’s legal representatives based their argument on the assertion that the response filed by Adebutu and PDP violated Paragraph 16(1)(a & b) of the Schedule to the Electoral Act and the regulations governing court pleadings.

The Tribunal sided with Governor Abiodun’s legal team and chose to expunge the entire response submitted by Adebutu and PDP.

It was confirmed during the proceedings that the accusation presented by Adebutu and PDP appeared to be an impromptu addition. This claim was swiftly assembled following substantial allegations put forth by Governor Abiodun, which were substantiated by a police investigation report. The report confirmed that Adebutu and PDP engaged in vote buying during the elections, as stated in his defense.

Some details of the sustained paragraphs are as follows: “The Petitioners deny paragraph 4 of the 2nd Respondent’s Reply and state that the submission of a forged certificate to the 1st Respondent by the 2nd Respondent along with his Form EC9 can be lawfully challenged before this Honourable Tribunal under
Section 134 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Petitioners and the said complaint is not statute barred.

“The Petitioners in specific response to the above paragraphs state that it was rather the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, whose agents were captured on tape recording before and during the election distributing cash in Ogun State Government envelopes to entice voters to vote for the 2nd and 3rd Respondents. The tape recording was widely distributed on social media and was publicly aired on Arise News Channel on February 19, 2023, and can be accessed via https// The Petitioners hereby plead and shall at the trial rely on the video clips and media reports of the and and 3rd Respondents’ vote buying.

“The 2nd and 3rd Respondents took advantage of the Naira redesign controversy and the prevailing cash crunch to offer Naira in cash to the electorate. The 2nd and and 3rd Respondents shared old Naira notes and when some of the beneficiaries were worried that they were being given old notes, the agents of the 2nd Respondent assured them that the 2nd Respondent who is the Governor would compel the banks to accept them. The Petitioners plead and shall rely on photographs and video recordings where the agents of the 2nd Respondent were caught on tape distributing Nara cash notes to the electorate.

“Again, on March 18, 2023, when the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections were held across Ogun State, the 2nd and 3rd Respondents caused to be distributed to the electorate pre-loaded top-up gift cards of A5, 000 and N10, 000 to buy their votes to financially influence the 2nd Respondent to win the governorship election. These Top up gift cards with PINS and Serial Numbers could either be used to buy airtime by dialling 979*PIN# or could be used to withdraw or transfer cash by dialling *979*SPID ACCOUNT NUMBER* PIN#. These were deployed massively and widely on Election Day to buy votes. These cards were distributed on Election Day by APC agents who also had Point of Sale (POS) Machines which were used to either buy airtime and data, collect cash, or cause the amount preloaded in the accounts to be sent to voters’ accounts. The Petitioners plead and shall rely on these pre-loaded cards at the hearing of this Petition.

“The Petitioners state that the 1st Petitioner’s Family only shared endowment cards at the burial ceremonies as burial ceremonial souvenirs of his philanthropic and benevolent mother, late Chief Mrs. Caroline Oladunni Adebutu, through her Endowment Schemes which were in existence in her lifetime and which she had utilized in mass empowerment programs. The 2nd Respondent is aware of this fact as he was personally in attendance during the said burial as a guest of the 1st Petitioner’s father, Chief Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu. The said cards had nothing whatsoever to do with vote buying or inducement of voters to vote for the Petitioners, and had nothing to do with the election.

“The election in the polling units listed in paragraph 9 of the 2nd Respondent’s Reply to the Petition were cancelled due to violent disruptions by the agents of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents when the envisaged that the 2nd Respondent was not likely to win in those polling units and also due to over voting and not as a result of willful disruption of election materials and resistance to the use of BVAS nor any act of the Petitioners. The Petitioners state that the allegation of willful disruption of election materials and resistance to the use of VAS by the voters is false and afterthought of the Respondents.

“The Petitioners deny paragraph 30 of the 2nd Respondent’s Reply and state that neither the Petitioners nor their agents were involved in the procurement or distribution of customised pre-paid Verve ATM Cards neither was any of the Petitioners’ agents apprehended by law enforcement agents for any offences whatsoever during or after the conduct of the election. The Petitioners categorically state that none of the Petitioners’ agents could have made any statement to law enforcement agents that the Petitioners instructed, knew or consented to any act of vote buying as mischievously claimed by the 2nd Respondent.

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