NBA 2018 Elections Court Orders Remand Of Two Lawyers Over Allegations Of Rigging
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the remand of two lawyers, Sarah Ajibola and John Demide, following their arraignment for allegedly rigging the August 2018 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections.
Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered their remand in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The duo are to remain with the anti-graft agency for seven days in order to fulfill their bail terms, failing which they will be transferred to the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services.
In the 14 count charge before the court, the EFCC claimed that Ajibola, and Demide manipulated the election in favour of Mr Paul Usoro SAN, who was elected as the 29th President of the NBA in 2018.
Mr Usoro polled 4,509 votes to defeat his other contenders, Obi Okafor and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, who got 4,423 and 3,313 votes in the elections.
One of the candidates, Prof. Ojukwu, condemned the election saying it was characterised by fraud.
On May 5th, the EFCC filed the charge against the defendants.
The EFCC counsel, Bilikisu Buhari Bala, told the court that the defendants committed the offences in August, 2018.
The counsel also 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 126.96.36.199 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, asked the court to admit them to bail “in the most liberal terms.”
They 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.
The judge then adjourned till April 14, 2021 for trial.