Two lawyers — Sarah Ajibola and John Demide — who were alleged to have conspired to rig the 2018 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections, were on Thursday brought before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The prosecutor, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that Ajibola, and Demide manipulated the election in favour of Mr Paul Usoro SAN, who was elected 29th NBA President in 2018.
Ajibola and Demide pleaded not guilty.
Persecondnews recalls that Usoro reportedly polled 4,509 votes to defeat other contenders, Okafor Obi, and Ernest Ojukwu, who got 4,423 and 3,313 votes in the election respectively.
Counsel to EFCC, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari Bala, insisted that the defendants committed the offences in August, 2018.
The two lawyers were alleged to have conspired to alter 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 220.127.116.11 to commit the electoral fraud.
The offences contravened Sections 27(1)(b), 13, 22(2), 22(3) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention etc.) Act, 2015.
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 is a senior lawyer of over 15 years at the bar and would neither jump bail nor tamper with evidence for the charge.
In his ruling, Justice Chuka Obiozor admitted each defendant to bail in the sum of N500,000 with one surety each and ordered that they should remain with the anti-graft agency for seven days in order to fulfill their bail terms.
“Failure of which they will be transferred to the custody of Nigeria Correctional Services.”
Continuation of trial has been fixed for April 14 to 22, 2021.