It was another round of legal setback for Ladi Adebutu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday as the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal dismissed their application seeking to strike out Governor Dapo Abiodun’s prayers establishing vote buying allegations against them.
Previously, Governor Abiodun had made a strong allegation of electoral fraud against the PDP candidate, Ladi Adebutu, and his party, allegedly perpetrated during the 18 March 2023 governorship election in the state.
Consequently, acting on what it termed a plethora of evidences at its disposal through discreet investigation and the confessions of some members of PDP who were caught in action, criminal charges were filed against Adebutu, PDP, and Zenith Bank, with the police accusing them of gross criminal conspiracy and money laundering during the polls, following which Adebutu hurriedly sneaked out of the country.
Meanwhile, the portion of Governor Abiodun’s response at the Tribunal, which specifically indicates the degree and effects of electoral fraud committed by Adebutu and the PDP, was unanimously admitted by the panel, against the application seeking to strike it out, giving the governor another victory in the ongoing legal proceedings.
Adebutu and PDP had argued that their petition did not include allegations of vote buying and so the governor’s defence should not also have included such allegations.
However, in its ruling, which was delivered Hon. Justice J.B. Egele and supported by the Chairman Hon Justice H N Kunaza and the other member Hon. Justice Sannusi Shehu, the Tribunal held that Governor Abiodun was not restricted to the same issues that Adebutu and PDP raised in their petition.
The Tribunal further held that in any event, vote buying is in the same family as corrupt practices, which is a ground on which Adebutu and PDP filed their petition, and accordingly dismissed the application.
Following this ruling, Governor Abiodun is free to present evidence of vote buying by Adebutu and PDP.