The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, on Tuesday filed his petition to challenge the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 25 February election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had announced Tinubu as the winner of the election after which it declared him ‘President-elect’.
In his petition before the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, Obi alleged that the election was characterised by various irregularities including the non-qualification of the APC candidate.
According to him, Tinubu’s forfeiture of his funds to the US government over drug trafficking allegation is an indication that the former Lagos State governor committed infractions that should disqualify him from running for an election in Nigeria.
It was reported how court papers from the US linked Tinubu to a drug trafficking case and his eventual forfeiture of the sum of $460,000 to the American government.
On February 18, 2009, the newspaper obtained original copies of the judgment in the case of United States versus Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in which the ‘President-elect’ was charged (along with other defendants) in a case of massive drug trafficking and money laundering.
This judgment directly relates to (and further documents) the SaharaReporters’ report of September 16, 2008 – How US Federal Agents successfully Linked Tinubu to Drug Trafficking Ring in Chicago.
The US, by its attorney, Michael J. Shepard, United States Attorney for Northern District of Illinois, for its verified complaint of forfeiture, stated that, “Beginning as early as 1998, Adegboyega Mueez Akande, with others operated an organisation which distributed white heroin, a controlled substance under Title 21 of the United States Code.
“This distribution operation was conducted on a large scale and the proceeds of the operation substantial.”
The court ordered “that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account in the name of Bola Tinubu represents proceeds of narcotics or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C ss 1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States.”
After protracted litigation in which Tinubu claimed that the monies legitimately belonged to him, his wife, Oluremi Tinubu, and his surrogate mother, one Alhaja Mogaji, Bola Tinubu finally opted for a stipulated settlement with the US government.
In his petition, Obi anchored this claim on the grounds that Tinubu at the time of the election, was not qualified to contest the election.
The court documents read, “The Petitioners state that the Grounds on which the Petition is based are as follows: The 2nd Respondent was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election.
“The election of the 2nd Respondent was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the more than one Constituency.
“The Petitioners shall contend at the trial that the purported sponsorship of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents by the 4th Respondent was rendered invalid by reason of the 3rd Respondent knowingly allowing himself to be nominated as the Vice Presidential Candidate whilst he was still a Senatorial Candidate for the Borno Central Constituency. The Petitioners shall further contend that for this reason, the votes purportedly recorded for the 2nd Respondent at the contested Presidential election were/are wasted votes and ought to be disregarded.
“The Petitioners further plead that the 2nd Respondent was also at the time of the election not qualified to contest for election to the office of President as he was fined the sum of $460,000.00 (Four-Hundred and Sixty Thousand United States Dollars) for an offence involving dishonesty, namely narcotics trafficking imposed by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483 between:
“In the Decree of Forfeiture, Judge John A. Nordberg in that said Case No: 93C 4483 ordered on October 4, 1993 on page 3 as follows:
“ORDERED that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account 263226700 held by First Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu represent the proceeds of narcotics trafficking or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18U.S.C. $$1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. $ 381(a)(6) and18U.S.C. $982; it is further ORDERED that First Heritage Bank shall issue a check in the amountof$460,000 payable to Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and that these funds shall be disposed of according to law;
“It is further ORDERD that the Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action in order to implement and enforce the terms of this Decree of Forfeiture.
“The above orders were made pursuant to paragraph 5 of the “Stipulations and Compromise Settlement of Claims to the Funds held by Heritage Bank and CitiBank filed by the parties, which stated as follows: ‘The parties further agree that $460,000 from the defendant account held by Heritage bank in the name of Bola Tinubu shall be forfeited by the United States and disposed of according to law. The funds remaining in the account shall be released to K.O. Tinubu.’
“The Petitioners hereby plead and shall rely on certified copies of the following documents, namely: a) Verified Complaint for Forfeiture, submitted by Michael J. Shepard (United States Attorney) and signed by Marsha A. McClellan (Assistant United States Attorney).”
Obi added that Tinubu’s running mate in the February presidential election, Kashim Shettima was nominated for two separate constituencies, as Borno Central senatorial candidate and vice-presidential candidate for Nigeria in the same election cycle.