Adebutu
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Voting buying: Zenith Bank official confirms PDP’s Adebutu applied for 200,000 prepaid cards

... hearing continues Wednesday, March 20

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A staff of Zenith Bank, Celestina Appeal, on Tuesday confirmed that the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in Ogun State, Oladipupo Adebutu, applied for the production of 200,000 prepaid valve cards on February 27, 2023.

At the resumed hearing of the criminal charge against Adebutu and others before the Ogun State High Court, the prosecution (Federal Government of Nigeria) represented by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), called its 9th witness, Celestina Appeal, who is the head of the department of card services in Zenith Bank.

In her testimony, Ms Appeal stated that by a letter dated 27th February 2023, Adebutu applied for the issuance of 200,000 prepaid cards which he claimed were intended for distribution to beneficiaries of his empowerment scheme in commemoration of the death of his mother Dame Caroline Adebutu.

The witness stated that the cards were subsequently produced upon the approval of Verve and that the same were delivered to Adebutu on the 7th and 13th March 2023, respectively.

According to the witness, the account to which the cards were linked was not funded until the 16th and 17th of March 2023, the eve of the 2023 gubernatorial elections.

On how she came in contact with Ladi Adebutu, she said: “I know the 1st defendant. He has been a customer of the bank since 2009. The 1st defendant requested a card from the bank via a letter dated 27th February 2023 to issue 200,000 prepaid cards. The prepaid cards were for beneficiaries in commemoration of the death of his late mother, Dame Caroline Adebutu.

“He gave the bank a graphical design he wanted on the card. When we received the request, the first thing we did was to confirm if the letter was from him. We then confirmed that the purpose was for his late mother, and we did confirm that the mother was actually late. We later got approval for the card scheme from Verve. When we got the approval, we went ahead to produce the 200k cards.

“When the cards were produced, they were delivered to the bank in batches. The first was received on the 7th of March, 2023. The bank delivered in batches as well. The last batch was delivered on the 13th of March, 2023. Between 7th and 13th March, when the cards were delivered, the account wasn’t funded. It was after we delivered the last batch of cards that the account was funded to take care of the funding of the prepaid cards.”

Meanwhile, the prosecution sought to tender the letter of request written by Adebutu and his statement of account but Mr Adebutu through his counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN) objected vehemently to the documents being admitted having not being certified.

The prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, countered the argument, saying that private documents do not require certification, citing different cases.

After listening to arguments from both sides, the trial Judge, Hon. Justice Abiodun Akinyemi adjourned the case until Wednesday, 20th March 2024, for ruling and continuation of hearing.

Adebutu, alongside some members of PDP, are facing trial over alleged vote buying and money laundering during the gubernatorial poll which he lost to Gov. Dapo Abiodun.

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