INEC Not Aware Of Tinubu’s US Drug-Related Forfeiture Of $460,000 Before 2023 Election – Mahmood Yakubu

Mahmood Yakubu, Tinubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it was not informed about President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s alleged drug case in the United States before the just concluded 2023 general elections.

Akelicious reports that two decades ago, a United States District Court passed a judgement on Tinubu and ordered him to forfeit $460,000 suspected to be proceeds of the narcotics trade.

The event happened while the incumbent Nigerian leader was in the United States.

Recall that the Labour Party and its presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, are seeking the removal of President Tinubu from power, alleging some irregularities by INEC during and after the February 25th presidential election.

In the petition before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja through his legal team led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), Obi stated that Tinubu was 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 titled “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v. Plaintiff FUNDS IN ACCOUNT 263226700 HELD BY FIRST HERITAGE BANK, IN THE NAME OF BOLA TINUBU.”

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Labour Party and Obi urged the Tribunal to disqualify Tinubu on that ground, among other prayers.

However, in its final written address obtained by journalists, INEC’s lead counsel, A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), said the commission was unaware of the alleged drug-related case involving Tinubu.

INEC insists that the case was not brought to its before the 2023 presidential election.

On the alleged imposition of a fine on the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) by the United States District Court in Case No: 93C 4483, the case of the 1st Respondent (INEC) is simply that same was not brought to its attention,” he stated.

Mahmoud again, told the Tribunal that the 1999 Constitution provides that the fine that disqualifies one from running for president must be associated with a court sentence.

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He said: “However, Section 137 (1) (d) of the Constitution, which provides for the sentence of fine as a disqualifying factor in respect of a Presidential Candidate, states as follows;

“(1) A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President
if- (d.) 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;” he added.

Mahmoud argued that in the 1999 constitution, the prescription of “fine” as a disqualifying factor for a Presidential candidate is hinged on a “sentence.”

He contended that in line with the severances of the several witnesses at the proceedings, the US case was bothering on forfeiture of proceedings and there was no charge or conviction.

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Thus, the Petitioners failed to prove this allegation and we urge the court to so hold.

“We urge the court to resolve this issue in favour of the 1st Respondent and hold that the 2nd (Tinubu)and 3rd Respondents (Kashim Shettima) were qualified,” he stated.

The SAN urged PEPC to also agree with the submissions of the lawyers representing Tinubu, the Vice President, Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress (APC) regarding the matter.

They maintained that the US judgment was not a criminal conviction.

On the issue of the order of forfeiture by the United States District Court, they (Tinubu, APC) contend that there was no criminal charge, sentence or conviction to support the allegation of criminal conviction or forfeiture. They further contended that the alleged order of forfeiture being that of a foreign court is not registered in Nigeria to be enforceable and is in fact now over 20 years since the alleged order was made,” Mahmoud insisted.

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