A top Nigerian politician, Ladi Adebutu stands accused by the Nigeria Police Force of employing corrupt practices during the previous general elections.
He allegedly used two billion naira in an attempt to manipulate voters in his favour in the election held on March 18.
According to Premium Time, the chairperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Abdullahi Sanusi provided the tip-off that initiated the investigation.
Sanusi’s complaint against Adebutu, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) governorship candidate, pointed to the distribution of preloaded ATM cards to entice voters.
The APC’s accusations were investigated by a police team led by Mohammed Babakura, a deputy commissioner of police.
Despite the allegations, Adebutu lost the election to APC candidate Dapo Abiodun.
However, he disputes the result and has lodged an appeal with the election petition tribunal.
Following the allegations, officers from the Nigeria Police Force and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) apprehended five suspects found in possession of hundreds of credit cards on election day.
The suspects, carrying numerous credit cards and political party agent cards, are believed to be tied to Adebutu’s alleged vote-buying scheme.
The investigation team spoke with several Point of Sale (POS) operators and Verve, the issuer of the credit cards, as well as Zenith Bank, the intended source of the funds.
The team also sought insight from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to aid in the investigation.
Adebutu, currently abroad receiving medical treatment, denied the allegations through his spokesperson, Afolabi Orekoya.
He claims the cards were part of an empowerment scheme for the poor and that their distribution started months before the elections.
The PDP governorship candidate added that these allegations are a strategy to derail his election challenge.
The spokesperson of the APC in the state, Tunde Oladunjoye, insisted on the validity of their claims, adding that the discovery of the credit cards outside with people post-elections bolsters their allegations.
Oladunjoye also discredits Adebutu’s claim of life threats, suggesting it’s either a diversion or a way to avoid his creditors.
Vote-buying has been a recurring issue in Nigerian politics.
In response, the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a cash redesign policy before the general elections to curb the practice.
The Electoral Act 2022 also provides penalties for vote-buying and other related offences.
As per the Act, individuals involved in vote-buying and those who accept such bribes are equally liable for the offence.
As of now, several people, including politicians, party agents, and voters, have been arrested for vote-buying and similar crimes during the 2023 general elections.
It falls on the electoral and security agencies to bring them to justice.