A Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded two lawyers, Sarah Ajibola and John Demide, in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) custody, for allegedly rigging the August 2018 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections.
Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered that they remain with the anti-graft agency for seven days in order to fulfill their bail terms, a failure of which they will be transferred to the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS).
The anti-graft agency claimed that Ajibola, and Demide manipulated the election in favour of Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, who was elected 29th NBA President in 2018. Usoro had polled 4,509 votes to defeat his other contenders, Okafor Obi, and Ernest Ojukwu, who got 4,423 and 3,313 votes respectively in the just concluded election.
One of the candidates, Ojukwu, condemned the election saying that it was characterised by fraud.
The agency filed the 14-count charge, marked FHC/L/118c/2020, against the defendant’s on May 5.
EFCC counsel, Bilikisu Buhari Bala, told the court that the defendants committed the offences in August 2018.
She alleged that they conspired and altered personal details, including email addresses and phone numbers of about 1004 eligible voters for the elections, with the intention that such inauthentic data will be acted upon as genuine during the said election.
Some of the voters’ names allegedly falsified were: Gabriel Abijo Oladipo with Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCN) No. 043280; Uthman Adeleye Oluwaseun with SCN No. 088449; David Anakor SCN No. 015233; Chiagoziem Bethel Aninilu, SCN No. 114439 and Bankole Isaac Toyin with SCN no. 024643.
The two lawyers were alleged to have used a smoke model on IP address 22.214.171.124 to commit the electoral fraud.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, contravened and were punishable under sections 27(1)(b), 13, 22(2), 22(3) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015.
Ajibola and Demide pleaded not guilty.
Their counsel, N. E. Ogeibe and Deborah Ogundele, prayed the court to admit them to bail “in the most liberal terms.”
He told the court that Ajibola was a senior lawyer of over 15 years, and would neither jump bail nor tamper with evidence for the charge.
In a bench ruling, Justice Obiozor admitted each defendant to bail in the sum of N500, 000 with one surety each. He adjourned the case to April 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, and 22, 2021, for trial.