By Robert Egbe
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday remanded two lawyers, Sarah Ajibola and John Demide, in Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) custody, following their arraignment for allegedly rigging the August 2018 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections.
Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered that the accused 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 (NCoS).
The anti-graft agency claimed that Ajibola and Demide manipulated the elections in favour of Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), who was elected 29th NBA President in 2018.
Usoro polled 4,509 votes to defeat his other contenders, Okafor Obi, and Ernest Ojukwu, who got 4,423 and 3,313 votes in the just-concluded election.
Ojukwu condemned the election, saying it was characterised by fraud.
The agency filed the 14-count charge against the defendants last May 5.
EFCC counsel, Mrs. Bilikisu Buhari Bala, told the court that the defendants committed the offences in August 2018.
She alleged that they conspired and altered personal details, including email addresses and phone numbers of about 1,004 eligible voters for the elections, with the intent that such inauthentic data would be acted upon as genuine during the election.
Some of the voters’ names allegedly falsified were: Gabriel Abijo Oladipo with Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCN), with number 043280; Uthman Adeleye Oluwaseun, SCN No. 088449; David Anakor, SCN No. 015233; Chiagoziem Bethel Aninilu, SCN No. 114439 and Bankole Isaac Toyin, SCN no. 024643.
The two lawyers were alleged to have used a smoke model on IP address 184.108.40.206 to commit the electoral fraud.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, contravene and are 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, prayed the court to admit them to bail “in the most liberal terms”.