Alleged votes-buying: FG amends charges as Adebutu appears in court

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The Federal Government on Tuesday amended charges filed against the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu and nine others before a state High Court sitting in Abeokuta.

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Recall that Adebutu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the gubernatorial election held on March 18, 2023, was alleged to have ordered through his bank the issuance of 200,000 preloaded ATM verve  cards with N10,000 and distributed same on the day of election across the State with criminal intention of inducing voters in the State.

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Nine other defendants were arraigned by the Federal Government in July, 2023 with the exception of Adebutu who was reportedly out of the country.

When the court resumed hearing on Tuesday, Counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacobs told the court (Justice Abiodun Akinyemi) that charge had been amended having served Adebutu who is a major defendant in the case.

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Jacobs applied that the court accept the amended charge, which counsel to the defendants, Gordy Uche, SAN, failed to object.

Justice Abiodun Akinyemi granted the application.

While all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the seven count charges preferred against them, their lead counsel, Chief Gordy Uche pleaded with the court to allow the 2nd to 5th and 10th defendants to continue to enjoy bail on earlier terms.

Uche prayed the court to grant Adebutu bail on self-recognizance, saying the defendant was only served on Tuesday morning and he presented himself before the court.

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Jacobs did not object to the bail applications.

Justice Akinyemi granted Adebutu bail in the sum of N1million and one surety. He adjourned the case till Wednesday (tomorrow) for trial.

Speaking with newsmen, the FG’s Counsel said Adebutu was served on Tuesday morning.

“Yes, he was served this (Tuesday) morning. We filed this morning also. He came and just got his statement,” Jacobs said.

On his part, Uche said “You know before now, there have been news all over that our client is at large. I am happy that today he is here in person. In fact, he presented himself to court voluntarily and it was inside the court that he signed for the charge sheet.

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“He has taken his plea, he has pleaded not guilty to all the seven counts of the charge. We are happy that we are here and we are ready for the trial and hopefully we will come tomorrow and continue with the trial. 

“The important thing is that he has put to rest all the speculations that he ran away, he is outside the country. Within all this time, he was taking his treatment and he is back, back to take his trial. There’s nothing that has gone wrong. He has come here voluntarily and he has taken his plea. We are ready for the trial.”

Uche also said the charge “has nothing to do with money laundering.”

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