Ogun State Not For Sale: Why Adebutu Should Be Arrested Over Electoral Fraud

From Ladi Adebutu’s comical pantomime at INEC’s office in Abeokuta, a disconcerting truth manifests for the umpteenth time: that Nigerian politicians are mostly sore losers. Haunted by hubris, they approach every election with an impossible conviction to win, even when the run of play manifests convincingly to their defeat.

The desperate and diabolical measures embarked upon by Labi Adebutu, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP’s governorship candidate in Ogun State, to win the election held last Saturday, March 18, has left many people aghast and disturbed.

Governor Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was declared the winner of the keenly contested election. But Adebutu and his party did not go down without showing their proclivity for the unorthodox in their desperation to appropriate Ogun State. Adebutu, a former House of Representatives member, is the son of one of Ogun State’s wealthiest men, the Lotto billionaire, Chief KessingtonAdebutu.

Widely perceived as haughty and aloof, the rotund politician battled tooth and nail before he could get the PDP governorship ticket. It was not until January 2023 that the Supreme Court ruled in a case instituted by Jimi Lawal and Segun Sowunmi over the legality of Adebutu’s emergence as the party’s candidate. Lawal and Sowunmi had emerged as parallel candidates in elections organised by different factions of the party.

With the ticket in his clutch and his father’s deep pocket, Adebutu reckoned that the battle was already half-won. On election day proper, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) intercepted four PDP party agents with preloaded money in credit cards in Ogun State. The cards had the inscription; Caroline Adebutu Foundation.

Caroline Adebutu, who died on Monday, January 9, 2023, at 83, was Ladi’s mother. Though the family is known for its vast charity works; the foundation is, however, non-existent underscoring the fact that it was established for the sole purpose of vote buying.

In a statement by Femi Babafemi, spokesman of the NDLEA, “Operatives of NDLEA on election duty stop and search, just intercepted four party agents with hundreds of money credit cards, to buy votes at Ibara housing estate, Ogun State. Each card contains 10k and is activated to cash with a code.” Babafemi stated further that the Chief Executive of NDLEA, Buba Marwa, has directed that they should be handed over to the police after proper documentation.

Regarded as a bizarre dimension to vote buying in the history of Nigerian elections, what obtained prior was cash as a means of exchange. However, the naira redesign policy, which the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, vehemently supported, stating that it would curb the incidence of vote buying, became the Achilles heel of his party in Ogun State. Like Adebutu, Atiku also lost his fifth bid for the Nigerian presidency to the APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It is in the wake of this that there is a groundswell of clamour that Adebutu and members of his party should be investigated for their involvement or otherwise in the scandal.

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