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U.S court judgement over forfeited $460,000 did not indict Tinubu, APC tells court 

NELFUND disburses loans as Tinubu presents cheques to beneficiaries

The All Progressives Congress (APC), through its team of lawyers at the Presidential Election Petitions Court, at the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Tuesday, insisted that its candidate at the February 25 presidential election, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was not indicted in any drug-related offenses, resulting in a forfeiture of $460,000 to the United States government in 1993.

The team, which was led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had in the defense of its principal, Tinubu, refuted the claim by Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, that his principal was indeed convicted by virtue of the seized funds.

Read also: Lalong eyes office of the SGF in Tinubu;s cabinet

Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar of the Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came third and second, respectively, are challenging the victory of Tinubu on several grounds, with Obi urging the court in particular to disqualify Tinubu for his link to drug trafficking in the U.S.

Obi had accused the APC leader of operating several bank accounts that helped receive the proceeds of heroin trafficking and also assisted in the crime of money laundering.

Obi presented a widely circulated court affidavit from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, claiming that Tinubu was in fact the owner of the accounts in question and that, by virtue of ownership of the seized bank accounts, he was in fact an accessory to the crime of drug trafficking.

U.S. court judgement indicts Tinubu for drug trafficking

The APC informed the Presidential Election Petition Court that the funds in the said accounts, which were domiciled in two commercial banks, were subject to a “civil forfeiture proceeding” and not a “criminal forfeiture proceeding” in Case No. 93C4483.

His defense team had insisted that the forfeiture wasn’t a fine but only a decree of forfeiture of the amount of $460,000 to the US pursuant to the settlement of claim by the parties to the case.

“The said decision is not against the 2nd respondent (Tinubu), but against the funds in the various accounts opened in the name of Bola Tinubu with First Heritage Bank and City Bank N.A.,” the lawyers said.

The party insisted that no where in the cause of the forfeiture of the said amount did Tinubu admit to the crime of drug trafficking, drug-related businesses, fraud, or money laundering.

“The compromise terms that led to the forfeiture were preceded by an express admission on record that the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) did not admit the commission of any drug, drug-related, or illicit conduct of dishonesty or fraud that fits into any of the grounds of disqualification to contest for the office of president of Nigeria at the February 25, 2023 general election,” the lawyers said.

The party also insisted that this matter had been clarified as far back as 2003, when the Federal Government, through the US Consulate in Nigeria, inquired about Tinubu’s criminal record, and the result was negative.

‘”In relation to your letter, dated February 3, 2003, reference number SR.3000 /IGP SEC/ABJ/VOL. 24/287, regarding Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a records check of the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s (FBI) National Crime Information Center (NCIC) was conducted,” the response read.

“The results of the checks were negative for any criminal arrest records, wants, or warrants for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (DOB 29 March. 1952). For information of your department, NCIC is a centralized information center that maintains the records of every arrest and conviction within the United States and its territories.”