….as issuing bank confirmed distribution of 160,000 cards by Adebutu

One of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agents in the March 18, 2023 gubernatorial election in Ogun State, Femi Adedayo has confessed to have distributed prepaid ATM cards to those who cast their votes for the party during the poll, in line with directives from their leaders.

Adedayo made the confession at the resumed hearing of a seven-count charge bordering on vote buying and other offences levelled against the governorship candidate of the PDP, Ladi Adebutu before Hon. Justice A.A Akinyemi of the Ogun State High Court on Thursday.

The prosecution team, led by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, called three witnesses in the vote-buying charges against Adebutu.

That is even as the 8th prosecution witness, Celestina Appeal, a staff of Zenith Bank was called upon by the court to conclude her evidence, in which she stated that the prepaid cards were all not all funded until the 16th March 2023. The funding of the cards, she said, is reflected in Appendix b of the statement of account opened on the 3rd of March with the heading “card usage analysis.”

In her words: “On the 18th, 65,677 cards were utilized with a total transaction of 67,581 transaction counts. On the 19th, 81,060 cards were utilized with a total transaction count of 84,360. On the 20th of March, the cards utilized were 14,999 with a total transaction count of 160,009. Approximately 160,000 cards were used within the three days. By utilization, it means the cash withdrawals were made. Apart from the request in Exhibit 22, 23 for production of 200,000 cards, no further request has been made.”

It would be recalled that some PDP members were apprehended by security agents in the state during the poll, with preloaded verve cards issued by Zenith Bank, with inscription of Dame Caroline Adebutu, Ladi Adebutu’s late mother.

Subsequently, Ladi Adebutu and other PDP leaders were arraigned in court with several exhibits and array of witnesses coming to substantiate the allegations against them.

In the same vein on Thursday, Adedayo, who was called as PW 10 under cross examination explicitly submitted: “On the 18th March 2023, which was the governorship election day, at about 7a.m, we went to Ijeun Tuntun, one of our leaders’ house, known as Mr Shonekan SS, a top PDP leader. We were many in his house. Five of us were asked to go to our units where we would work.

“We were two agents and three canvassers in all. We were to work at Ewang. Shonekan led other leaders to encourage us to canvass people to vote for PDP. We were given a bundle of cards, 58 pieces. The canvassers were already talking to voters after accreditation to vote for PDP on the promise that we would treat them well and that we would give them the cards if they voted for PDP. We shared ourselves. The voters will display their slips to the canvassers to see because the PDP logo is at the tail end of the slip.

Meanwhile, Adedayo’s position had earlier been confirmed by PW9, Segun Olabowale, who is a card carrying member of the PDP, who in his testimony stated that after collecting 54 cards, he retained four for himself and used five to canvass for votes, before giving the rest to one Mr Oke Daniel.

According to him, he later turned the four prepaid cards he retained after the election to cash. He explained further that he gave the cards to a POS operator close to the polling unit and got N40,000, which was withdrawn on the 18th and 19th March 2023.

Consequently, Adedayo’s PDP Party Agent card was tendered and admitted as Exhibit 27, while that of Olabowale’s PDP membership card was tendered and admitted in evidence.

Following the two confessions, PDP’s lead counsel, Gordy Uche, SAN, who appeared for all the defendants subsequently sought for an adjournment, which was granted by the trial judge, and the case was adjourned to the 5th, 6th and 7th of June 2024 for continuation of hearing.

By News Connect Online

News Connect Online is a grassroot advocacy news platform established to promote development and peace through efficient and effective reportage across all beats. Beat: Education, Entertainment Environment Energy Business Health, Sport, Foreign News, Advocacy, Tourism, Transportation

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