The Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation has approached the court to seek an order to declare Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ineligible to contest next month’s presidential because of his conviction and forfeiture of money relating to narcotics in the United States.
The campaign announced the decision to go to court on Monday at a press briefing by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, who said that the main opposition party also wants a court order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delist Tinubu as a presidential candidate and expunge his name in all materials related to the poll.
Reading a prepared text, the campaign spokesperson said: “Nigerians are not unaware of the criminal matter concerning the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in respect of his criminal conviction and sentencing by a Court of competent jurisdiction in the United States over a criminal case of trafficking in narcotic for which Tinubu forfeited the sum of $460,000 to the State
“For the avoidance of doubt the United States Court in sentencing Asiwaju Tinubu 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 proceeds of narcotics trafficking or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. S1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. S881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C S981.”
From the declaration of the Court and the sentencing, it is clear that Asiwaju Tinubu was summarily convicted by the Court, he took no step to challenge the judgment but acceded to the forfeiture of the $460,000 found to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
“It is already established that trafficking in narcotic is an international crime which all nations are obligated by international conventions and statutes to arrest, prosecute and implement any Court judgment imposed on offender anywhere in the world, as well as the consequential effects of such judgements.
“As you are all aware, Nigeria is a signatory to such international conventions and therefore is mandatorily obligated to implement the consequential effect of the conviction imposed on Asiwaju Tinubu by a Court of Competent jurisdiction in the criminal case of trafficking in narcotic.
“You will further recall that as our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had already established, the Presidential Candidate of the APC, having been convicted and having acceded to be guilty as charged by way of forfeiture of the $460,000, Nigeria being a signatory to International Convention is mandatorily obligated to execute the consequential effect of that conviction by virtue of Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“For clarity, Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that1) 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.
“The import of the foregoing is that under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), having been so convicted and fined and having acceded to the sentencing by way of forfeiture of $460,000 and having not received any State pardon or acquitted by any court of competent jurisdiction, Asiwaju Tinubu remains a convict and the consequential effect is that he cannot contest election at any level in Nigeria
“The effect is that the listing of the name of Bola Tinubu, who stands convicted by a Court of Competent jurisdiction on the ballot for the 2023 Presidential election is by the virtue of Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) fundamentally illegal, invalid and must be expunged immediately.”
He added: “Consequently, our Campaign has proceeded to the Court demanding the Court to: Declare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential Candidate of the APC, having been convicted, as ineligible to contest the Presidential election by virtue of section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately delist Asiwaju Tinubu as Presidential candidate of the APC or any other political Party for that matter and expunge his name from all materials and documents related to the 2023 Presidential election.
“Our Campaign is filing for accelerated hearing in this case in the interest of the nation as our laws do not permit a convict, let alone an individual convicted on account of international crime of trafficking in narcotic, to stand election at any level.”
The Atiku/Okowa Campaign further averred that “Nigeria cannot afford the embarrassment of having a convict hold office at any level against our laws.”
It counseled “all those wasting their funds, time and energy on the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to put their resources to better use as his gaffe infested, showboating Presidential ambition has practically come to the end of the road.”