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Despite all the steps taken over the years to resolve the issue of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460,000 in Chicago, United States, the issue has continued to linger. It is hoped that the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, to challenge his victory in the February 25 election will eventually put it to rest permanently, Alex Enumah writes

The recent petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to challenge the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 election has again thrown up the much reported forfeiture of $460,000 by the former governor of Lagos State over an alleged drug case in the United States.

Tinubu’s drug case is among the key grounds for which Obi is seeking his disqualification in the election petition the former Anambra State governor filed against the declaration of the former Lagos State governor as the President-elect following his victory at the February 25 presidential election. 

In his petition, Obi argued that Tinubu, “at the time of the (presidential) election, was not qualified to contest the election.” 

He stated that the former Lagos State Governor was fined $460,000 for an alleged offence involving dishonesty, particularly narcotics trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in case No:93C 4483 between the US and Tinubu. He added that for this reason, the votes purportedly recorded for Tinubu at the presidential election were wasted votes and ought to be disregarded.

Since Obi filed the petition, the members of the Obidient movement have fully resurrected the issue of the forfeiture of $460,000 by Tinubu. All over the social media, the issue is a recurring decimal as they argue that it is a veritable ground for the tribunal to annul Tinubu’s victory.

The matter got to a head last week when in a tweet, a former human rights activist, Ayo Obe, taunted them, saying the move by Obi to sack Tinubu on account of the forfeiture case cannot stand, being that it is now statute-barred.

Obe cited Section 137 (1)e) of the Constitution that said a Nigerian cannot be elected president within 10 years of a conviction for offences brought by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

 “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if within a period of less than ten years before the date of the election to the office of President, he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of the contravention of the Code of Conduct,” the section said.

While responding to Obe last weekend, the Director of Media in the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, argued that his principal’s alleged drug case in the US happened more than 10 years ago and cannot, therefore, be used as a basis to truncate his victory at the polls last month.

 “The Obi supporters don’t read. They live in a cocoon of falsehood and contrived propaganda,” Onanuga said.

 However, Tinubu’s traducers have insisted that Section 137 (1)(d) disqualifies anyone who had been fined for any offences in the past from becoming president.

They also argued that the subsection did not give any timeline under which a convict can be released to run for Nigeria’s presidency.

The subsection specifically reads: “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he is under a sentence of death imposed by any competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment or fine for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) or for any other offence, imposed on him by any court or tribunal or substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal.”

Opponents of the former Lagos State governor have also pointed out the January 17, 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court where it defined forfeiture as punishment for an offence under the Nigerian criminal statutes may compound his problem.

The judgment, which was delivered in the case of Mohammed Abacha versus the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by the current Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice  Olukayode Ariwoola, while serving as a Supreme Court justice, declared that forfeiture means “the loss of a right, privilege or property because of a crime”.

 “The word ‘forfeiture’ means the divestiture of property without compensation. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty,” Justice Ariwoola held in a majority decision.

 He noted that any person who has forfeited property on the basis of a crime cannot be entitled to indemnity, adding that forfeiture is a form of punishment, and that there is no indemnity in Nigeria’s criminal procedure.

While many legal experts have argued that the Tinubu’s case is quite different from that of Mohammed Abacha, others stated that the peculiarities of the case would need the court to determine if the US court’s ruling has relevance in Nigeria.

Though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, did not include the Chicago drug case in their petitions challenging the declaration of Tinubu as President-elect, the party’s Presidential Campaign Council had in January threatened to drag Tinubu to court.

The party’s campaign council had argued that he should not participate in the February 25 presidential election on the premise of an alleged criminal case of trafficking in drugs that led to his subsequent forfeiture of the sum of $460,000 to the US authorities.

The spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who spoke in Abuja, had expressed the determination of the campaign council to file for an accelerated hearing in the case in the interest of the nation.

According to him, Nigeria’s laws do not permit an alleged convict, let alone an individual convicted on account of the international crime of trafficking in narcotics, to stand election at any level, adding that Nigeria cannot afford the embarrassment of having an alleged convict hold office at any level.

 He added that the campaign council would ask the court to “declare Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, having been allegedly convicted, as ineligible to contest the Presidential election under section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution;

“Compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately delist Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the APC or any other political party for that matter and expunge his name from all materials and documents related to the 2023 presidential election.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the United States Court in sentencing Tinubu ordered, ‘that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in the name of Tinubu represents proceeds of alleged narcotics trafficking or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. S1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. S881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C S981.’

“From the declaration of the court and the sentencing, it is clear that Tinubu was summarily convicted by the court, took no step to challenge the judgment but acceded to the forfeiture of the $460,000 found to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking,” it stressed.

Ologbondiyan further noted that “Nigeria is a signatory to such international conventions and therefore is mandatorily obligated to implement the consequential effect of the conviction imposed on Tinubu by a court of competent jurisdiction in the criminal case of trafficking in narcotics.

 “The import of the foregoing is that under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), having been so convicted and fined and having acceded to the sentencing by way of forfeiture of $460,000 and have not received any state pardon or acquitted by any court of competent jurisdiction, Asiwaju Tinubu remains a convict and the consequential effect is that he cannot contest the election at any level in Nigeria.

“The effect is that the listing of the name of Bola Tinubu, who stands allegedly convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction on the ballot for the 2023 presidential election is by the virtue of Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) fundamentally illegal, invalid and must be expunged immediately,” he further explained.

But responding to the PDP campaign council’s press conference, the spokesman for the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, had described the Atiku/Okowa Organisation as a body that was deficient in ideas and originality. He noted that until its APC counterpart took Atiku to court for alleged confession to have fraudulently helped himself to state resources while serving as Vice President, the PDP campaign council did not know the road to court.

 He said: “Why did they wait all these months until we filed before they are now rushing to court? I challenged them more than two months ago, yet they did nothing. It shows a team that is lacking in originality, lacking in ideas, and lacking in vision. 

 “It is just an attempt to create a counter-suit to our own. Unfortunately for them, Nigerians have seen through them already. They are Special Purpose Vehicles advocates that are trying to turn the tide of public opinion. Nigerians have decided; Nigerians have rejected them. This is so laughable that Nigerians are beginning to see that these are remorseless people; leopards that cannot change their skin.”

While Tinubu’s traducers have argued that his victory would be upturned by the courts, his supporters think otherwise, given the fact that he has never been convicted by any court anywhere to warrant his disqualification from occupying elective offices.

However, no matter the outcome of Obi’s petition in the election tribunal, the final decision on his petition will put the issue of Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460,000 to rest permanently.  

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I Won’t Abandon Atiku – Dele Momodu




The Director of Strategic Communications of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, on Monday, insisted that the February 25 presidential election, which produced President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, was manipulated.

In a statement tagged, “I stand on rule of law,” issued a few hours after  Tinubu’s inauguration as Nigeria’s 16th President, Momodu insisted that the judiciary still had to decide the authentic winner of the poll.

Momodu said he would stand by and not abandon the presidential candidate of his party, Atiku Abubakar, for any gains.

The PDP stalwart said, “My position on the state of our country, Nigeria, is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of the PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its rule of law. My political party, the PDP and others, passionately hold the view that the last presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts.

“Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar,  who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard-earned democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.”

He commended those who took the initiative of challenging the electoral outcome in court, saying, “I salute and respect the Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests.”

Last week, the suit filed by the PDP seeking the disqualification of the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on grounds of alleged double registration, was dismissed by the Supreme Court which ruled that the party lacked the locus to institute the suit in the first instance.

Atiku and Obi both turned down invitations extended to them by Tinubu to attend his inauguration ceremony, citing different reasons, not unrelated to the fact that they are in court to challenge the process that brought him to power.

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Start By Publishing Your Assets, Investments, SERAP Tells Tinubu



As Bola Tinubu assumes Nigeria’s presidency today, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised him to promptly make public his assets, income, investments, liabilities and interests. He is also charged to impress it on his vice, Kashim Shettima, to toesame line.

The group, in a letter dated May 27, 2023 and signed by deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, also urged the Lagos State ex-governor to prioritise respect for human rights, media freedom, rule of law and the judiciary.

It recalled Tinubu’s recent promise to “kill corruption,” reminding him that the outgoing administration in 2015 made similar promise that was not kept.

SERAP said: “As Nigerians have witnessed for eight years, (outgoing) President Muhammadu Buhari has neither ‘killed corruption’ nor obeyed court judgments on transparency and accountability.

“Publishing details of your assets, income, investments and liabilities and encouraging your deputy and others to do same would allow Nigerians to know your worth and that of other public officials.

“If your election is upheld by the judiciary, your government can use transparency in asset declarations as a means of promoting public accountability and ending systemic corruption in the country.”

According to the group, Buhari’s “broken promises to make specific details of his assets public and to kill corruption have opened up the country’s political and electoral processes to a money free-for-all, discouraged political participation and contributed to impunity.”

It continued: “Although (outgoing) President Buhari’s march to Aso Rock was predicated, in large part, on his campaign rhetoric to ‘kill corruption’, corruption remains widespread among high-ranking public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“Making public details of your assets, liabilities and interests would reduce unjust enrichment of public officials, ensure integrity in public offices and promote transparency and accountability, as well as good governance.”

The body noted that enforcement of court judgments is critical to national interest and restoration of rule of law in the country.

SERAP added: “The incoming government, therefore, has a responsibility to improve citizens’ trust and confidence in government. But it will be difficult for the new government to be trusted if its leaders do not come clean about their assets and income.

“Disclosure of income, assets and conflicts of interest can serve as powerful tools to draw attention to abuse of public office, help prosecute corrupt offenders and create a culture of scrutiny in the public sector.”


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2023 Northern Presidency Failed Because Peter Obi Left PDP – Okowa




The outgoing Delta State Governor and 2023 vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa has stated that a northerner could have succeeded President Muhammadu Buhari if Peter Obi didn’t leave the PDP.

According to Okowa, the PDP had analyzed and concluded on how to present a northern candidate, with a southern running mate as the best way to counter the All Progressives Congress (APC) from getting massive bloc votes in the 2023 elections.

The party threw its presidential ticket open with a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar eventually emerging as the PDP candidate.

However, the Delta State Governor said the decision of Obi to join the race for the ticket threw up southeast and religious sentiments and his eventual decision to dump the party for the Labour Party affected the votes of the PDP.

He made the submission during a chat with journalists on Sunday in Asaba.

According to Okowa, the northern presidency would have succeeded if Obi didn’t leave the PDP.

“I belong to the PDP and for me as a person and for the majority of the people in the PDP, they believed that our pathway to victory was to have a northern candidate and a southern vice,” he said.

“Why? Because we were not a majority.”

“The only thing that turned our reasoning out was when Obi came out from the south-east and there were a lot of feelings that came in among the Christians.

“So it ate very deep into our votes and that is what led to the loss of the elections,” Okowa added.

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