The All Progressives Congress (APC) has explained the circumstances that led its candidate and president-elect, Bola Tinubu, to forfeit the sum of $460,000 to the government of the United States of America in 1993, following a drug trafficking allegation.
The Presidential Candidate of the Labour party, Peter Obi had challenged the announcement of Tinubu as the winner of the election, stating among other things that the APC candidate was not qualified to contest the election.
Obi in his lawsuit filed at the electoral tribunal said Tinubu’s forfeiture of his funds to the US government over a drug trafficking allegation was an indication that he engaged in infractions that were enough to disqualify him from contesting an election.
In new court filings at the Presidential Election Petition Court, the APC said that Tinubu merely relinquished the funds in 10 bank accounts that were opened in either his name or that of Compass Finance and Investment Co.
The APC said the funds in the said accounts, which were domiciled in two commercial banks, were subject to a civil forfeiture proceeding in Case No: 93C4483 and that the purported decision of the United State District Court Northern District of Illinois, Eastern division in the said case, was not a fine but a decree of forfeiture of the amount of $460,000 to the United State pursuant to the settlement of claim by the parties to the case.
The APC, through lawyers led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, told the court that the Federal Government had as far back as 2003, through the American Consulate in Nigeria, inquired about Tinubu’s criminal record which unequivocally and unreservedly cleared Tinubu of any criminal record, in the United States of America.
The APC argued that the said forfeiture Tinubu made to the US government, having lasted a period of 29 years, was no longer a valid ground to challenge his eligibility to contest the presidential election.
“The Respondent states that, in any event, the impleaded decision of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division is not a decision by a competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria; and same has been falsely, mischievously paraded by 2nd Respondent’s political adversaries like the petitioners, detractors and haters to scandalize, demonize and de-market him to the Nigerian electorate at the 25th February, 2023 general election with a view to delegitimizing his well-earned victory at the polls, despite all legitimate and fact-checked denials and rebuttals as exemplified by the official report from the United States affirming his innocence and exonerating him from the touted drug connection and criminal conviction.
“The Respondent states further that in any event, the said decree of forfeiture was made by Judge John A Nordberg in the said Case No: 93C4483 on the 4th day of October 1993, a period of 29 years before the 25th day of February 2023 when the said presidential election was duly conducted by the 1st Respondent.
“The Respondent avers that the allegations referred to in the said paragraph have been subjecting to litigation and duly litigated upon by a court of competent jurisdiction in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1146/1999.
“The Respondent further avers that having been litigated upon by a competent court of law, this Honorable Court is estopped from retrying the same issues that have been appealed against. The Respondent shall find and rely upon the judgment in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1146/1999.
“Without prejudice to the above, the Respondent avers that the Nigeria Police Force investigated the 2nd Respondent regarding any record of criminal arrest and/or conviction. The investigation was extensive and far-reaching.
“Consequently, the American Consulate, Lagos Nigeria revealed that there was no record whatsoever of any criminal arrest, warrants and/or conviction regarding the 2nd Respondent. The Respondent shall found and rely on letter issued by the Embassy of United States of America, Nigeria dated 4th February 2003.”