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Vote Buying: Zenith Bank appears in court, presents evidence of N200, 000 preloaded ATM cards

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An official of Zenith Bank, Mrs Celestina Appeal, who is the Head of Card Services of the bank was subpoenaed and appeared as a witness on Monday before the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in relation to allegation of vote buying through preloaded ATM cards levelled against Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu.

Counsel to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, had earlier informed the panel that two letters were submitted to Zenith Bank in February, seeking clarification on how Adebutu opened a special account for the purpose of his action with the bank as well as the request he made for issuance of 200,000 preloaded ATM cards containing N10, 000 each, some days before the March 18 gubernatorial election.

The witness started the presentation of her evidence by submitting the certified true copy of a letter written to Zenith Bank by Oladipupo Adebutu dated 27th February 2023, two days after the Presidential Election which the PDP lost, requesting to open an account for the production of 200,000 ATM verve cards containing N10,000 each and totalling 2 billion naira.

She also presented another certified true copy of a letter written by Adebutu and addressed to the bank dated the same 27th February 2023, requesting for the issuance of the 200, 000 ATM verve cards.

Also, she tendered record of delivery of and collection of the prepaid ATM cards to Adebutu, and the sample of the card, including statement of account opened in the name of Oladipupo Adebutu, which indicates inflow and outflow of the account from February to May 2023, and Certificate of Compliance.

The second and third witnesses that appeared before the panel, Mr Odesanya Olalekan, an artisan from Ijebu North East and Adeosun Waheed, a business man from Abeokuta North both confirmed the distribution of the preloaded ATM cards by PDP members on the day of election.

While the second witness produced the copy of the preloaded card, which was marked RA13, the third witness, Waheed, under cross examination by counsels to the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Afolabi Fashanu, SAN and Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye, SAN, respectively, confirmed that the preloaded ATM cards were distributed by Adebutu popularly known as Baba Ijebu, adding that the cards had the inscription of Mrs Caroline Adebutu, the mother of the PDP candidate.

While being cross examined further , the witness testified that members of PDP disrupted voting process in the course of their resistance to the use of the BVAS in the conduct of the election.

Meanwhile, counsel to the petitioners, Gordy Uche, in his remarks expressed his decision to reserve his objection on the tendering of various documents and letters, including the collection and delivery of the cards to his final address.

He, also, objected to the tendering of the copy of the cards shared by the petitioner on the day of election, but postponed the details of his objection to the point of final address.

Counsel to the 2nd respondent(Gov. Dapo Abiodun) Prof Taiwo Osipitan, then applied for adjournment and said that the next witness will need to come and demonstrate some documents, informing the court of closing his case on Tuesday.

The tribunal, in its ruling accepted the copy of the subpoenae and marked it as exhibit RA5, also the letter tendered by the 1st witness, requesting for ATM by Adebutu was admitted as exhibit RA6.

In the same vein, letter of deposit of N2 billion was marked as exhibit RA7.

The tribunal further submitted that since all the questions were direct and witnesses answered directly, therefore there was no need for re-examination; it then adjourned the case till Tuesday for continuation of hearing.

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