By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last gubernatorial election in Ogun State, held on March 18, 2023, Mr. Oladipupo Adebutu, on Wednesday docked at the High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the state capital, over allegation of money laundering and voting buying.
The Prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, in his submission, called a witness, Mr Seyi Binuyo, a Scheme Executive at the Interswitch Limited, who testified on the alleged issuance of 200,000 preloaded verve cards for voting buying preferred against Adebutu by the Federal Government.
Binuyo explained that the specimen of the cards sent to Interswitch by Adebutu, through his bank, Zenith Bank Plc, was not the same issued by the bank for the purpose of alleged vote buying on the day of the election.
He said: “What was printed is not the same with what we approved. The verve brand mark is not on exhibit 8. The front design of exhibit 15 has a picture, while exhibit 8 does not contain a picture. The data on top of the card is Dame Caroline scheme is on exhibit 8. The design that was submitted for approval is written prepaid.”
In the same vein, Mr Oke Aina, a farmer and resident of Kuto, Abeokuta, confessed that one Segun Adebowale, a PDP agent approached him on the day of election to help the party canvass for votes among the electorate through the said preloaded verve cards, saying each pack of the card contained 25 pieces.
Aina confirmed that the preloaded cards had inscriptions of Adebutu’s mother, Dame Caroline Adebutu, conspiciously on it, as he categorically mentioned about five beneficiaries of the cards in his polling unit.
Responding on the point of law, Chief Gordy Uche, who is the leading counsel to PDP and Adebutu, argued that the evidence provided by the witness to substantiate the distribution of the preloaded verve cards for alleged vote buying during the governorship election could not be a primary evidence, in line with section 89 and 90 of the constitution.
However, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, disagreed with Uche, arguing that the statement of account provided by the witness, having received electronically, remains his primary evidence and not secondary at all, insisting that having complied with Section 84, he is not required to comply with Section 89 or 90.
Ruling on the matter, the court admitted the bank statement of the witness as exhibit 16, saying the evidence complied with certificate of compliance, in line with section 84 of the Evidence Act.
It therefore, considered all the sections and the decision cited, as it added that it does not matter whether a document is primary or secondary once it meets the requirements of Section 84 as the section makes no such distinction.
The case was later adjourned until 19th and 20th March 2024.