LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin
An Ilorin High Court presided over by Justice Sikiru Oyinloye has remanded a man in prison custody for alleged vote-buying during the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly elections.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned the suspect, Abdusalam Abdulkadiri, in court for allegedly conspiring with one Oye Obalola to provide N120,000 with the intend of corruptly influencing persons to vote for a particular political party on the election day. Oye Obalola is said to be at large.
Mr. Abdulkadiri was also accused of providing N120,000 for the purpose of using same at polling unit 007 in Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, contrary to Sections 124/5 and 130/8 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the count charge.
Responding to the defendant’s not-guilty plea, counsel to EFCC, Nnemka Omewa said “the defendant having pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge, we humbly ask for his trial and urge the court to remand him in prison custody.”
But defendant counsel, O.S Mohammed, objected and prayed the court to grant the accused person bail as the offence according to him is bailable.
Mohammed said: “The issue of bail is purely the discretionary power of the court no matter the severity of the offence or the punishment. Once the court is satisfied the accused person will make himself available to stand his trial, he may be admitted to bail.
“There are other conditions which the court will take cognizance to admit the accused person into bail pending trial. One of such is the criminal record of the accused person.
“I urge the court to admit the accused person into bail pending his trial because at this stage and going by Section 36 sub-section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, he is still presumed innocent.
“I also submit that Section 170 of the Kwara State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2018, provides a defendant that is charged with an offence which its punishment is less than three years shall be entitled to bail unless the court sees reasons to the contrary. This offence is not capital in nature. Therefore, I urge the court to admit him to bail on liberal terms.”
He urged the court to remand the accused person in EFCC custody as opposed to prison custody.
Reacting again, EFCC lawyer said “granting bail is entirely the discretion of the court. But this discretion is not exercised in a vacuum. An applicant seeking permission for bail had to place material facts before the court to enjoy that discretionary power.
“It is also trite that the court in exercising its powers had to do it judicially and judiciously. I further submit that the applicant had not placed material facts before the court to warrant the court exercise its discretion.”
Presiding Judge, Justice Sikiru Oyinloye declined to grant the prayers of the defendant hinging his reasons on the improper procedure for the bail application.
Justice Oyinloye added that the defense counsel had not placed before the court material facts to guarantee the granting of the bail application.
He, thereafter, ordered that the accused be remanded in Oke-Kura prisons, Ilorin, and adjourned the case till March 28.