Legal Nigeria

70-year-old Lagos APC chieftain Wahab Hamed jailed for vote buying

Wahab Hamed, a 70-year-old Lagos chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, has been sentenced to one year imprisonment for involvement in vote buying during the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly election.

Hamed was arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for conspiring with one Segun Ijitola who is still at large, to induce voters with money during the presidential election at polling unit 28, Gbaja Girls Junior High School, Surulere.

Justice Ismail Ijelu, sentenced Hammed, to one-year imprisonment and a fine option of N500,000 on each of the two counts preferred against him by the EFCC after he begged the court for mercy.

The judge had asked the defendant if he actually understood the facts reviewed against him by the prosecution counsel and the defendant answered in the affirmative.

The judge, therefore, found Wahab Hamed guilty and convicted him following the review of the facts in the case after Hammed pleaded guilty to the charge on Wednesday.

EFCC had alleged that the 70-year-old Wahab Hamed an alleged APC leader, was involved in vote buying and bribery, contrary to the provisions of Sections 121 (1) and (5); 121 (1) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Samuel Daji, had told the court that the suspected vote buyer had on Feb. 25 conspired with one Segun Ijitola who is still at large, to pay voters during the 2023 Polls.

However, at the resumed proceeding for reviewing of facts and sentence, the court directed the interpreter to interpret for Hammed as the prosecution reviewed the fact of the case, as he claimed not to understand the English language or pidgin.

The prosecutor, Daji, said that while the commission’s officers on election monitoring duties were at Surulere on Feb. 25, they received intelligence about the activities of individuals engaging in vote buying and bribery at Polling Unit 28.

He said: “Following an intelligence report, a team of operatives were dispatched to the polling unit and the defendant was seen sharing money to bribe voters of his party.

`On sighting the operatives of the Commission, the voters ran away, while the defendant was arrested with the sum of N121,000.

“The defendant was brought to the Commission’s office located at 15A Awolowo Road Ikoyi Lagos with the exhibit.

“He was interviewed and he made voluntary statements where he stated that he is a ward leader of APC in Unit F3 Surulere, Lagos.

“He confessed that the money found with him was given to him by one Hon. Seun Ijitola who is a Senior Special Assistant to Chairman, Surulere Local Government to bribe voters to vote for their party.

“He confessed that he had bribed a few voters before he was arrested, and the money was in 500 naira denomination,” Daji state.

Before the sentence, the Wahab Hamed pleaded for mercy in tears.

He said, “Milord, am an old man above 70, I have never been arrested and I have no criminal case or record.

I am also set for surgery slated for Saturday. Since I was arrested and detained, I have not been feeding fine. I battle with high blood pressure and ulcer.”

He further pleaded that at his age, he would not have been involved in such an act if his children were employed.

The Defense Counsel, Mr Olabiyi Ademola, also pleaded that the defendant had been remorseful and regrets his action, adding that the defendant would not be involved in any of such criminal acts again