The Nigerian government has amended its 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.
The charges were amended on Tuesday, to accommodate and arraign Adebutu in the suit instituted in July 2023, on allegations of financial inducement of voters during the 18th March governorship and state assembly election.
In the suit with case no: AB/10c/2023 (FRN Vs Adebutu &Ors), the Nigerian government alleged that Adebutu 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 an intent of inducing voters.
Nine other defendants were arraigned by the Federal Government in July 2023 with the exception of Adebutu who was reportedly out of the country.
On resumption of the hearing on Tuesday, Counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacobs told the court that the charge had been amended having served Adebutu who is a major defendant in the case.
The counsel sought the consent of the court to amend the charges and the presiding judge, Abiodun Akinyemi, granted his plea.
The court also took the plea of Adebutu and six other defendants present in court. They all pleaded not guilty.
Counsel to Mr Adebutu; Goody Uche, prayed the court to grant his client’s bail on self-recognizance, saying the defendant was only served on Tuesday morning and he presented himself before the court.
Jacobs did not object to the bail applications.
Justice Akinyemi granted Adebutu bail in the sum of N1 million and one surety. He adjourned the case till Wednesday for trial.
Speaking with newsmen, the FG’s Counsel said, “Yes, he was served this (Tuesday) morning. We filed this morning also. He came and just got his statement,”
On his part, Uche said “You know before now, there has 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.
“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.”
When asked if the case before the court has money laundry inclusive, Uche responded in the negative.