CRIMINAL PROSECUTION 08/12/2023
2023 Polls: Court Jails Lagos APC Chieftain For Votes Buying
Justice Ismail Ijelu of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, on Thursday, sentenced a Ward leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Surulere local government area of the state, Wahab Hammed, to one-year imprisonment for engaging in vote buying during the 2023 general elections.
Hammed had on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a two-count charge of conspiracy and bribery brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), prompting the court to fix Thursday for the review of the facts of the case by the prosecutor, Samuel Daji.
While reviewing the facts, Daji told the judge that on February 25, 2023, during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the anti-graft agency received an intelligence report that specific individuals were involved in vote buying at Girls High School Gbaja in Surulere area of Lagos.
He said that some operatives on monitoring duties were dispatched to the venue but that on sighting the detectives, the voters involved in vote buying took to their heels, but the convict was arrested with N121,000 cash of N500 denominations.
The prosecutor also informed the court that “he was brought to the EFCC Ikoyi office with the exhibit. He was interviewed, and 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.
“He also admitted that he had spent part of the money. He made voluntary statements at least twice, acknowledging that he was ready to forfeit to the Federal Government the proceeds of the criminal activities,” Daji stated.
The lawyer also tendered some exhibits, which included the convict’s extra-judicial statement and the money recovered from him. The exhibits were admitted as evidences by the court.
Daji then urged Justice Ijelu to convict the politician in accordance with Sections 121 (1) and (5), 121 (1), and 1 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and forfeit the proceeds of the crime to the federal government.
In his allocutus, the convict, who claimed that he is over 70 year-old, pleaded for mercy, stating that he has high blood pressure, ulcer and urinary incontinence.
He said, “I plead with the court to forgive me. I would not be here if my children were doing well and working. I have six well-educated children, and their mother is late.”
In his judgment, Justice Ijelu stated that he had listened to the allocutus of the convict and that he was a first offender with no criminal record and that he appeared to be remorseful.
The judge also held that, “Section 121 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act 2022, under which the convict was charged, states that anyone who commits the bribery offence is liable to a fine of N500,000 or a maximum sentence of 12 months.
“This section gives the court a discretionary power to exercise. The court finds high guilt on the part of the convict; the harm occasioned by his conduct is significant. The court found no aggravated factor against him. In mitigating the sentence, the court considers that he made a guilty plea, has no previous convictions and is a first offender.
“For this reason, Alhaji Wahab Olaniyi Hammed is hereby sentenced to a term of imprisonment for one year or an option of 500,000 for each of the two counts against him.
“He shall forfeit the proceeds of the crime to the federal government and also undertake to the EFCC in writing to always be of good behaviour and to never indulge in crime again,” the judge held.