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EFCC prosecutes man accused of vote-buying, jailed at Oke-Kura prisons

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has prosecuted a man, Abdusalam Abdulkadiri, accused of vote-buying during the last governorship and state assembly election held in Ilorin, Kwara State.

He was sent to Oke-Kura prisons, Thursday in Ilorin, after the presiding Judge,  Sikiru Oyinloye denied his bail application.

The EFCC prosecutor, Nnemka Omewa, arraigned the suspect at the Kwara State High Court for allegedly conniving with one Mr. Oye Obalola, to disburse the sum of N120, 000 for the purpose of influencing voters’ decision at Polling Unit 007, Kwara State College of Education.

Omewa argued that the offence was contrary to Section 124 (5) and Section 130 (8) of the Electoral Act (2010).

Section 124 (5) states that “any person who commits the offence of bribery is liable on conviction to a maximum fine ofN500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both”.

Section 128 of the Electoral Act (Disorderly conduct at elections) also states that, “any person who at an election acts or incites others to act in a disorderly manner commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine ofN500, 000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.”

Even Section 130 added that a person, who under undue influence: “(a) corruptly by himself or by any other person at any time after the date of an election has been announced, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays money to or for any person for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election, or on account of such person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting at such election; or

“(b) being a voter, corruptly accepts or takes money or any other inducement during any of the period stated in paragraph (a) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of NI00, 000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.”

But the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.

“The defendant having pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge, we humbly ask for his trial and urge the court to remand him in prison custody,” says the EFCC prosecuting counsel, Omewa.

The EFCC, prior to the general elections had embarked on sensitisation campaign across its zonal offices to discourage acts of vote-buying. But despite these, several arrests were made on the same incident, during the poll at different locations in the country.

Meanwhile, defendant to the accused, O.S Mohammed prayed to the court to grant the suspect bail, at least at the EFCC custody, as the offence, according to him is bailable.

“The issue of bail is a purely the discretionary power of the court no matter the severity of the offence or the punishment. Once the court is satisfied the accused person will make himself available to stand his trial, he may be admitted to bail.

“…I urge the court to admit the accused person into bail pending his trial because at this stage and going by Section 36 sub-section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, he is still presumed innocent.”

According to him, Section 170 of the Kwara State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2018 provides that a defendant, charged with an offence which its punishment is less than three years shall be entitled to bail unless the court sees reasons to the contrary.

“This offence is not capital in nature. Therefore, I urge the court to admit him into bail on liberal terms,” Mohammed noted.

But the EFCC counsel insisted that, though granting of bail is entirely at the discretion of the court, but applicant seeking permission for bail should place material facts before the court to enjoy such discretionary power.

“It is also trite that the court in exercising its powers had to do it judicially and judiciously. I further submit that the applicant had not placed material facts before the court to warrant the court exercise its discretion.”

Justice Oyinloye declined to grant the prayers of the defendant due to an improper process for the bail application, thus ordered his remand to Oke-Kura prisons.

Oyinloye adjourned the case until March 28th.

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