The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday resumed their dispute over the 2023 governorship election in Ogun State, despite both parties closing their cases last week at the election tribunal in Abeokuta.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of the APC was declared as the winner of the closely fought 18 March election but Ladi Adebutu of the PDP promptly dragged him before the tribunal to challenge the declaration.
On Monday, a police report emerged from the law enforcement agency’s investigation of a petition it received from the PDP accusing Governor Abiodun and the APC of electoral violence, ballot box snatching and vote buying in the governorship poll.
The document emerged over a month after the PDP had accused the police of sitting on it, and given them one month to make it public.
The 36-page report, dated 2 August, was signed by the state Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, Mohammed Babakura.
Months earlier, PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how the police revealed a N2 billion alleged vote-buying scheme against Mr Adebutu in the same election.
The APC through a petition, signed by its chairman in Ogun, Yemi Sanusi, had accused the PDP candidate of distributing ATM cards preloaded with N10,000 to induce voters on election day.
The earlier report by the police noted that its officers and officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested five suspects with hundreds of credit cards on election day.
The federal government has arraigned suspects from that investigation before the federal high court in Abeokuta, the state capital.
The police, in the latest report, said they also arrested some suspected thugs allegedly hired by the APC to cause chaos and disrupt elections at polling units.
One of the suspects, Sanu Jamiu, reportedly told police investigators that he and 15 others were employed by one Efuje, a former councillor and APC member from Iperu-Remo, to cause mayhem at polling units.
Mr Jamiu said his gang was paid N50,000 to disrupt the election processes.
“In the month of February 2023, one EFUJE a.k.a Alhaji who was once a councillor in ward 5, Iperu-Remo and an APC member, invited him to work as a political thug for Prince (DR) Dapo Abiodun for the period of election and promised a handsome compensation.
“In addition, he states that he was in a group of about sixteen thugs contracted by the said EFUJE and they were all given fifty thousand naira (#50,000:00k) to share before the presidential elections when he first met with EFUJE.
“The group of 16 was led by one Kehinde a.k.a ALARA. During the 2023 presidential elections, Efuje, on behalf of Governor Dapo Abiodun instructed the thugs that each polling unit should be manned by three thugs such that there will be no incidence of ballot box snatching.
“However, on 18th March 2023, during the gubernatorial elections, Efuje called at about 7 a.m. and instructed the thugs to move around all the polling units and observe the trend of elections.
“At about 3 p.m. of the same day, Efuje called back stating that the PDP was winning elections at St. John primary school ward 5 and instructed that they should move there and cause mayhem, snatch the ballot boxes and destroy them which they did immediately.
“He states that they arrived at the aforementioned polling unit on a motorcycle, caused violence, snatched the ballot box and took it to Ansarudeen primary school, Powerline area of Iperu-Remo where they emptied the ballot papers from the box and also destroyed the ballot box before they left.”
Another Seun Samuel was also said to have claimed that he was hired by Soneye Kayode, a member of the House of Representatives from Obafemi Owode Federal constituency, to snatch ballot boxes during the governorship election.
However, the report said the lawmaker disputed Mr Samuel’s claim.
“He denied sponsoring thugs for the elections neither was there violence whatsoever during the March 18th, 2023 elections in Obafemi Owode Local Government as a whole.
“Furthermore, he states that he never armed thugs with weapons before, during and after the elections.”
The APC chairman in the state also denied the allegations, according to the police report.
“Yemi Sanusi, being the chairman of the party and also mentioned in the petition, that having perused the petition against his person, he doesn’t know anything about the allegations levelled against him by the petitioner.
“That he voted at Alagbaa village, Orile-ilugun, Odeda Local Government Area where he did not give anyone money, there was no ballot box snatching neither was there crises in all the local governments.
“That it was the PDP that used branded credit cards
of #10,000;00k branded in the name of Caroline Adebut memorial scheme to buy votes, that they started to distribute the cards from 17th March 2023 till 18th March 2023 and they also stationed POS around the corners of polling units for voters to cash the money and that the PDP vote buying strategy was going on everywhere in the 5,042 polling units in the state.
“In addition, he stated that he wrote a petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation on the PDP’s electoral fraud on the 3rd of April 2023 but he is surprised that the PDP who committed the offense wrote a counter petition against him.
“Furthermore, he added that he knows none of the thugs listed in the petition, neither does he know anything about the distribution of money before the election and that neither APC nor himself nor Governor Dapo Abiodun committed themselves to the use of any top-up cards to win the election.
“Finally, he stated that the election was free and fair.”
The police report also said the APC handed over a N5000 top-up card to voters intending to buy votes.
The cards were produced for the state government by a company called Onecard Top Up Services Limited.
This company renders services in the provision of top-up and payment solutions for service providers in the public and private sectors.
The government had contracted the company to produce the cards to the tune of N577, 500,000 and they were delivered between January and May 2023.
Investigators spoke with the general manager of the company, Ogbonna Amaka, and later reported:
“In December 2022, OneCard was also contracted by the Ogun State Government for the use of recharge cards for empowerment programme.
“Following this, OneCard sold recharge cards in various bits to Ogun state Government between January 2023 and May 2023. Ogun State ordered a total of cards worth #577,500,000:00k (five hundred and seventy-seven million, five hundred thousand naira only) with payments and activation dates stated as follows: 2nd February 2023 (#5000:00k denomination of cards valued at #55,000,000:00k), 13th March 2023 (#2,500, #5000 and #10000 denominations of cards valued at #385,000,000:00k), 14th May 2023 (#5000 denomination of cards valued at #137,500,000:00k. Cards are activated after each tranche of payment and according to demand for its use.
“175,000 units of cards are yet to be paid for and activated, broken down as follows: 120,000 pieces of #5000:00k, 10,000 pieces of #10,000:00k, 30,0000 pieces of #20,000:00k, 10,000 pieces of #50,000:00k and 5000 pieces of #100,000:00k.
“OneCard activated cards are valid for a period of one year from the date of activation.
“Finally, she stated that the contact person and the one who signed the contract on behalf of the Ogun State Government is one Mr. Seyi Ogunseye being the senior special assistant to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Revenue Assurance.”
However, reacting to the report Monday evening, APC spokesperson in the state, Tunde Oladujoye, said it did not indict the governor and the party.
“He said the report instead indicted the PDP witnesses.
In a statement he said contains his response to inquiries by a journalist, Mr Oladunjoye said:
“If you have monitored events dispassionately since after the elections and you have read and digested the report you are talking about, and dutifully covered proceedings at the Tribunal, you will know that there is nothing to the police report and there is no indictment on our party, APC. Even the report states expressly that the allegation of overvoting made against APC by the PDP was not substantiated.
“The police report stated specifically under number Eleven of its findings: ‘That contrary to the claims of some of the witnesses brought forward by the PDP, Daniel Obadamilare, Adesina Sakiru, Dauda Kamil and Ogunleye Francis, their claims of vote buying cannot be substantiated as they were unable to mention the POS agents that were alleged to have converted the cards to cash for them.”
“The Police Report Concluded that:
‘The APC has denied the allegations levelled against them by presenting evidence such as the Official Gazette and the Executive Order establishing the Ogun State Social Investment Program, presenting Local Government Chairmen as witnesses to its functionality at the grassroots, presenting beneficiaries of the social investment program as witnesses and also a sample of appointment letter given to the SIOs (Social Investment Officers).”’
Meanwhile, the federal government is prosecuting Mr Adebutu, who has been out of the country since after the elections in March, and nine other suspects arising from the police investigation of the allegations made against them by the APC chairman in Ogun, Mr Sanusi.
The election petition tribunal is expected to soon announce the date for its judgement on Mr Adebutu and the PDP’s petition against the reelection of Governor Abiodun.