New Telegraph

February 26, 2024

Vote Buying: APC Chieftain Sentenced To One-Year Imprisonment

The High Court of Lagos State presided over by Justice Ismail Ijelu, has sentenced a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Wahab Hammed, to a year imprisonment or an option fine to the tune of N1m.

The judge decided to convict Hammed on a two-count charge of conspiracy and bribery made against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

During the APC chieftain’s arraignment, counsel for the EFCC, Samuel Daji, hinted to the judge that on February 25, 2023, the defendant conspired with one Segun Ijitola (who is still at large) to pay bribes to voters corruptly during the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

Daji, who stated that the defendant committed the offence at Unit 28, Gbaja Girls Junior High School, Surulere, insisted that the offence contravened the provisions of Sections 121(1) and (5); 121(1) and 1(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

Hammed pleaded guilty, and the court had to adjourn to enable the prosecution counsel to review the case before conviction and sentencing.

During proceedings, Daji tendered a statement of the review of the prosecution’s facts against the defendant.

The anti-graft agency’s counsel informed the judge that the EFCC operatives, while on election monitoring duties during the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Election held on 25th February 2023, received an intelligence report that certain individuals were involved in vote-buying and bribery at Polling Unit 28 located at Gbaja Girls High School, Surulere, Lagos.

According to the lawyer, upon receiving the intelligence, the operatives of EFCC were dispatched to the venue, and upon sighting the operatives, the voters involved in vote-buying took to their heels, but the defendant was arrested with the sum of N121,000 in N500 denominations.

Daji said, “He was brought to the EFCC Ikoyi office with the exhibit. When he was interviewed, he stated that he is a ward leader of APC in Unit F3 in Surulere, Lagos, and he confessed that the money was given to him by one Hon. Segun Ijitola, who is a Senior Special Assistant to the Chairman of Surulere Local Government.

“He admitted that he had shared part of the money with those who ran away, and it was to bribe voters to vote for his party, APC. He also admitted that he had spent part of the money.

“He made voluntary statements of at least two pages where he admitted these facts. He also admitted that he was ready to forfeit the sum found with him to the FG, being proceeds of criminal activities.”

In sentencing Hammed, Justice Ijelu held that “Hammed had worsened his situation by resorting to crime, which has contributed to his children’s unemployment.

“The convict was charged under Section 121 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act 2022, which states that ‘any person who offers or pays or causes to be paid any money to any person to use it for bribery in any election, commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

‘The court has discretionary power under this section, and it finds that the convict bears high guilt, and his actions have caused significant harm. However, no aggravating factor was found against him.

“The court takes into consideration his guilty plea, lack of previous convictions, and being a first-time offender in mitigating the sentence.

“The court acknowledges the need to sanitize the electoral process, and therefore, imposing a non-custodial sentence on the convict may deter him from future misconduct.

“As a result, Wahab Olaniyi Hammed is sentenced to either one year in prison or an option of paying 500,000 on each of the two counts against him.

“The convict shall forfeit the proceeds of the crime to the Federal Government and undertake in writing to the EFCC to be of good conduct and never to engage in crime again.”

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