By Stephe Ubanna
Much of last week, there have been rumours making the rounds that the Independent National Electoral Commission, NEC, under the close watch of Mahmood Yakubu, a Political Science Professor, was investing, Aswaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and Presidential Candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, for the February 25, 2023, general elections over alleged proceeds of narcotic trafficking and money Laundering in the North American country of the United States, US.
The rumour became pronounced on Thursday, November, 10, 2022, and Friday, November 11, 2022, when a press release alleged to have emanated from the Commission became manifest. The Commission had reportedly said in the press release that ‘’it is studying the US, District Court Judgment Order of ‘‘the criminal forfeiture against Tnubu, the APC, Flag bearer, to determine if the alleged offences committed by the former Lagos state governor as stated by the US District Court ‘‘contradicted the INEC guidelines and the 2022 Electoral Act’’.
The purported press release on the Commission’s investigations of the former Lagos state governor may have forced Festus Okoye, the ,Electoral umpire , National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, at the instance of Prof. Yakubu, the Chairman off the Commission, to counter the fake press release that bear his name and signature, in order to give it authenticity.
Okoye, the INEC, National Commissioner, may have cleared his name from the mess, when he stated categorically that ‘’the said ‘’the press release did not emanate from the Commission nor is it pursuing the purported course of action’’, describing it as ‘’the handwork of mischief makers and utterly fake’’.
He had made Nigerians to understand that all the press releases from the Commission are usually uploaded ‘‘to its press Corps platform and simultaneously disseminated through its website and social median handles’’, urging the public ‘’ to ignore the fake press release’’
The purported US District Court Judgment Order against Tinubu, the APC, Flag bearer, over ‘‘the criminal forfeiture of funds which are proceeds of drug trafficking and money laundering charge instituted against him in 1993, according to the Court, ‘‘falls foul to the US 1956 and 1957, Laws’’.
The Court was said to have ordered that the funds in the 2622267000 held by the Citibank and First Heritage Bank respectively in the name of Bola Tinubu, which represents proceeds of narcotics trafficking or were involved in financial transactions ‘’ which ran foul of the North American country Laws.
But Festus Keyamo, minister of state, Labour and Employment, a senior Advocate Of Nigeria, SAN, and spokesperson of Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, PCC would not agree with the US district Court Judgment. He had said that the funds linked to the APC , Flag bearer for the 2023, general elections, in the US, were ‘’tax deductions and not drug proceeds’’.
Appearing on Channels Television recently, he had said that over the last few months ‘’there has been public scrutiny of background of the former Lagos state governor’’. The minister had cited an affidavit by one Kevn Moss, and the interview with the Mobil officials who were said to have confirmed that Tinubu is a treasurer in the oil Company. The Mobil officials had reportedly said that the funds found in the former Lagos state accounts are not for the Company.
The US oil company had not confirmed the former Lagos state governor status as a criminal but as a respected employee of Mobil. Keyamo that had said that after all the rigmarole trying to find out whether the accounts where the funds came from are linked to narcotic drugs, failed, they had come to the conclusion that ‘‘the deposits he made –that these bankers have called investments, were unpaid tax on the interests’’, noting that the Federal Reserve Agency in Chicago are taking what duly belonged to them.
Recall the US District Court had further held in its Judgment that, ‘’First Heritage Bank, one of the Banks allegedly used by Tinubu, shall issue a cheque in the amount of $460,000 payable to the Federal Reserve Agebcy of Chicago and that the funds shall be disposed of according to the US Laws’’. The The alleged Tinubu drug cartel was said to have kept a number of Bank accounts in the US before the Law caught up with them as evidenced in the said certified true copy of the Court documents, marked 93cc.4483.
Tinubu, political rivals may have taken advantage of the drug –trafficking baggage which has been hanging over his neck over the years to accuse him of ‘‘falsifying his age and altering his educational credentials in a clear bid to achieve his political ambition of ruling Nigeria at all cost.
The Value News learnt that in 2003, during the Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the US Consulate office in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre had written to Tafa Balogun, the then Inspector General of Police, IGP, saying ‘‘its records ‘‘did not indict Tinubu of any wrongdoing at no time in past within the territory of the US’’.
The question on the lips of most people was why the US District Court is coming out with such damaging documents against the Lagos state born politician, who had contested the governorship elections in the state in 199 and 2003, and won, without any blemish now that country’s Presidential election, described as a three horse race is just around the corner.
Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Candidate, for the 2023, general election, has been linked to the release of the US District Court Judgment damaging documents aginst Tinubu that he was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering by Keyamo, a legal luminary, and spokesperson of APC, presidential Campaign Council, PCC.
Atiku may have played into the hands of the APC PCC, to believe that that he was instrumental to the release of the US District Court documents because of the recent trip of the PDP Presidential Campaign team to the US. The PDP, Presidential Candidate was said to have had a high –profile engagement with the US government during the trip. Keyamo was emphatic that Atiku’s trip ‘‘to the US was responsible for the release of the Court documents’’. An aggrieved Keyamo had said the issues of Drug trafficking and money Laundering had remained a recurring decimal whenever Tinubu, decides to run for a political office in Nigeria.
The minister had said that Tinubu’s detractors, the PDP, Presidential Campaign team,, may have pretended that they went to the US, for high level engagement but it has turned out to be the release of the US District Court Judgment Orders damaging documents, which had found its way into the Nigeria social media on Thursday, November 10, 2022.