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BREAKING: Sorry, you can’t contest 2023 election, Atiku tells Tinubu



The cumulative effect of the verdict of the Northern District Court of Illinois, in the US causing the forfeiture of the $460,000 belonging to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, as proceeds of narcotics and money laundering, which are serious crimes in Nigeria, is that he cannot contest the 2023 election, because he is already tainted with the grave consequences.

These were the conclusions of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as he weighed in on the issue on Thursday, even while the camp of the former Governor of Lagos State, dismissed the matter as a “storm in the teacup, without anything to it.

Just as Tinubu, spoke through Festus Keyamo, the Director General of the All Progressives Presidential Congress Campaign Council (APC-PCC), Atiku, conveyed his position through Danie Bwala, spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PDP-PCC).

Emphasising, while appearing on Politics Today, a Channels Television current affairs programme, Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had asserted on Wednesday, that the $460,000 which Tinubu was made to forfeit to US authorities was tax deductibles that should ordinarily accrue to the government.

His words: “These processes are mere presumptions. They found money in his (Tinubu) accounts and they said he needed to come forward. In that affidavit of Kevin Moss, they said they interviewed Mobil and Mobil said this man is a treasurer in Mobil. Mobil said the funds are not for them.

“They confirmed his status not as a criminal but as a respected employee of Mobil. It is in that affidavit. After all the rigamarole trying to find out whether the accounts where the money came from are linked to drugs, they came to the conclusion that the deposits he made — what these bankers called investments — they said he had not paid tax on these interests. That is all. Look at paragraph 38. They said it is tax. They took what belonged to them. They even begged Tinubu not to return. Just allow us take what belongs to us and go. They were begging him. It was not punishment, it was no indictment, it was just forfeiture.”

“The deposits he made there (in banks) were what bankers call investments. He kept the money there and he was getting interests. They (US government) said he had not paid tax on those interests. That is all and guess what? The banks are supposed to deduct the tax from source.

“Out of the 10 accounts, it was only one account – the one in Heritage Bank – that they took $460,000 as tax on interest that he benefited on the investment he made in those accounts. In fact, all the money in Heritage Bank was not taken; they took only $460,000 as tax.”

But in a quick riposte on Thursday on the same programme, Bwala, though acknowledging that there was actually no conviction, because Tinubu took advantage of a provision in the US laws not to contest the forfeiture, the further implication did not absolve him of the criminal taint.

Disclosing the interest of the PDP in the matter, he said, it was important that people like Keyamo, were not allowed to deceive Nigerians, hence the need for the party to join issues, distill facts and reel out the truth on the issue, adding that many of the perspectives the APC spokesman gave on Wednesday, were false.

First, dismissing the issue of timeliness, he said it did not matter whether the incident took place hundred years ago, they must be raised each time Tinubu put himself out for public office, as Nigerians needed to know the full details of the full background of the man angling to lead them.

Hear him: “If you’re vying for a public office, you must be willing to be scrutinised. The reason is that the man who would be President of Nigeria – that’s why they have security vetting – must be somebody that the nation must have an idea of his life from when he started to where he is today, so that he doesn’t become an object of blackmail or national security threat. So, the fact that it happened after 30 years is a non issue.”

He also dismissed the argument that under statute of limitation, the matter could not be raised in Nigeria because it was handled in a foreign land, saying it held no water, adding that money laundering and dealing with narcotics were criminal offences both in the US and Nigeria, adding that the reason why Tinubu escaped conviction and punishment, was because he co-operated with the prosecutor’s offer that the matter should not go to court under the Non Conviction Based Recovery.

He explained: The way they operate, if they want to prosecute you on a crime that investigation suggests that they are going to spend a lot of money and whatever the crime they’re targeting, they may not be able to get the whole of it before the end of the trial, but because, the idea is to recover as fast as possible the proceeds of crime, they now apply the forfeiture proceedings.

“Forfeiture is a civil proceeding, yes, it is not a criminal proceeding, but the elements argued before the civil courts, are elements of crime. It is just the proceeding that is civil, but the procedure upon which the prosecutor would convince the judge that these assets are proceeds of crime, are criminal elements. Yes, Tinubu was indicted, but was he convicted criminally, the answer is no.

“Under Non Conviction Based Recovery, there are three types of pleas. There is a plea of guilt, there is not guilty and there is no contest. If Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the time had decided to contest it, if it went into trial and the elements were proven, it might lead to his prosecution. What most defendants do in the US is that they don’t want a situation in which they would be further exposed. So, they can afford to let go of the assets. That’s why they enter what they call non-contest. What it means is that I’m not guilty, but I’m also not contesting it, so whatever you see, you carry.

“Nigerians must know, it is the moral issue that the nation is confronted by. Somebody who has not denied, but has in fact, co-operated with the government of the US about the proceeds of crime traceable to his account, with three documents, an affidavit setting out the facts and what the prosecutor was setting out to achieve, a verdict, the finding of court, based on the affidavit, which established a probable cause under the relevant laws that those assets that they were seizing were actually proceeds of crime.

“Once that is done, the judge must say that the defendants must be put on notice. Who are the defendants. If you look at that proof of service, which is another document, you’ll see United States of America as plaintiff and Bola Tinubu as the defendant. The owner of that account and the account are like two Siamese twins. Does account number come to court. The owners of the account come to court and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not contest. He in fact co-operated. This is why he cannot separate himself.”

Again, dismissing Keyamo’s further argument that forfeiture did not amount to punishment, he countered by saying that anything that rightly belonged to someone, but being forfeited in that manner, was clear punishment. “Why are you forfeiting it? Because investigation proves a link between you and that item and that that item is linked to narcotics. So, narcotics and money laundering are criminal offences,” he said.

Questioning the issues further, he said, Keyamo, who prided himself as a prosecutor, should have told Nigerians how much Tinubu was earning at the time to have such amount in his account, if it was actually not the proceeds of money laundering and narcotics. “How much was Tinubu earning. How much was his salary. Even if you multiplied it with a number of years, the prosecutor would say, is it enough to have that large sum of money in your account?

“For the Nigerian people, the issue is not just about the source of the money, yes, the source is important, but for the Nigerian people, there is still a cloud about drug-related offences and drug-related activities with somebody who wants to be the number one citizen of the country. I tell you why. This idea of drug and narcotics is a terrible thing all over the world. If somebody has that questionable character as a President, it will embolden people who are into those activities. That is why the person has to come out clean.”

Bwala, also reminded Keyamo, that he had not reversed his conclusion on Tinubu presenting a dubious certificate with which he contested elections as a governor, adding that even though the court dismissed the matter because on technical ground, the APC spokesman, had failed to tell Nigerians that those conclusions he made on the certificate case, were now false.

On the argument that his link to the matter was like a director appearing in a case to defend his company, Keyamo, must be reminded the APC spokesman that Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was convicted by the court and ordered to be sent to prison, not because he actually committed the offence directly, but because he was the alter ego of the anti-graft agency, saying it was in the same manner, Tinubu should take responsibility for the money found in the account.

In all he said: “I’m afraid that the conclusion of this case is that from the eyes of the law, especially if you look at the constitutional provisions beside it, Bola may be disqualified from contesting if that matter goes to court. Narcotics an money laundering, whether in America or in Nigeria, is a criminal offence.”


Nigerian judiciary: When an integrity-challenged institution sheds crocodile tears



“It is only here that judicial officers work harder than slaves and yet, they are not appreciated. But, the consolation is that the judges in Nigeria are attached to the devil they are contending with. Whether we like it or not, we have to be proud of our judges and justices. They are brilliant and bold and some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.

“A mistake by one judge should not be generalised to warrant general condemnation from any quarter. They surpass judges from other countries. They deserve commendation for resisting the evils. The majority of judicial officers are standing in the face of challenges and unless we are careful with the way we attack judges, we will lose our minds and conscience.”

These were the exact words of Kanu Agabi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF-MoJ) a few days ago. He was invited to speak on behalf of the senior members of the SANs, otherwise known as the Inner Bar, Nigeria’s equivalent of the UK Queen’s Counsel, now King’s Counsel, on Monday, September 25, 2023, at a special court session marking the commencement of the 2023/2024 Legal Year in Abuja.

As usual, and as it is wont with his ilk, the learned silk, once again attempted to shift the blame, this time for the rot in the society, particularly the heist that underscored the 2023 general elections which has hurt Nigerian democracy so badly. His was that instead of Nigerians directing their condemnation where they believe it is supposed to be firmly resting – the Nigerian judiciary, the camera of shame should be panned elswhere.

But what that would entail is to confirm as the judicial camp, perhaps believes, is that Nigerians are equipped with the brain matters of animals or at best morons. Otherwise, there is no other way the Nigerian judiciary would not take a large chunk of the blame if not all the blame in its entirety. In fact, nowhere else could it be more fitting.

Before him, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem President of the Court of Appeal (CoA), while opening the event, was no less unhappy herself about the brickbats the judiciary has been getting from Nigerians, while attempting to shift the blame away from the judiciary to Nigerian politicians, whom she blamed for not accepting their fate by walking away.

By the combined efforts of the two and indeed many other lawyers and commentators, some of them employed as undertakers, not only to beautify the ugly corpses that judicial pronouncements have become, but deodorise their putridity, the judges remain irreproachable, simply because they are merely interpreting the law the way it is rather than the way it ought to be.

For the rest of Nigerians who believe that judges should go beyond this straightjacket concept and deliver the justice of the matter before them in all ramifications, they are accused of committing a mortal crime of daring to bemoan the fate they have been handed. Their insistence that saving the society and the people from the insults, indignities and consequences arising from practically being fed their own excreta – a cocktail of faeces and urine, the usual mantra is that they are dwelling on sentiments. “Law is not sentiments, they would readily say.”

But put this statement on a proper societal balancing scale, it simply lacks the basic elements of logic. In the first place, judges are not inanimate objects. They are not machines either that could be placed at a spot and remain there permanently, never acting until their owners move them. They are also not trees that would be threated with being hewed down and still remain standing. No! Judges are not only human beings, but live in the same society they deny justice.

So, if democracy is raped so furiously and brutally as Nigeria has witnessed over the decades, most particularly in the 2023 elections, which has been acknowledged in informed quarters as the worst in the history of the country, judges, who by their pronouncements, help to sustain the outcome, cannot escape the blame, by snoring in the save and comfortable duvet of merely interpreting the law as it is or enjoy the alluring lullaby of praise singers, who tell them that their refusal to unilaterally take up the gauntlets to defend the society, reflects professionalism and courage as Agabi implied.

Rather they deserve to be called out and the guilt of the collapsed house that could result from such a convenient, irresponsible and most times devious shirking of their supposed ennobling duty, hung on their necks like yokes on the bull of burden. They must be dragged through the septic gutters of the infamy they deserve to travel on. That is what Nigerians are doing at the moment and there is no way they can escape the anger of the people no matter their obvious attempt at a pushback.

Yes! Agabi described Nigerian judges as “brilliant and bold” reasoning that “some of them are appointed as justices in other countries.” Of course it could be true and he may be right. But brilliant and bold in what sense? While the brilliance part of it is left to the jury, it is clear that only a bold judge could look at what happened in the 2023 elections, allow it to endure and keep a straight face. But that is in the negative sense.

Only a bold and courageous judge would look at Nigerians in the face and tell them that it is okay for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not to upload results of the 2023 elections real time, in line with their guidelines and what they mouthed everywhere in the market places across the country and even as far as the world stage, including the Chatham House in the UK, because they are not legally bound to do so. It is only a negatively-tutored and inspired judiciary that could hug such an obtuse, even if convenient excuse.

Perhaps, the former AGF was talking about the Nigerian judges of old and not the type Adamu Bulkachuwa, a Nigerian Senator once told his colleagues in his contribution at the closing session of the ninth Senate, held at the hallowed chambers of the Senate before the beaming cameras and millions of eyes within and without Nigeria, that he he effectively influenced and manipulated from his bedroom.

They are certainly not the type Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), told the world recently that Nigerian politicians put behind their pockets as they go about committing various forms of crimes and whose skewed appointments are the products of bedroom and other filial considerations. Certainly not!

If indeed they were, those who whose vice grip on the throat of the 2023 election asphyxiated life out of it, would not have been that daring to be singing the go to court mantra. It is because they were aware of the insipid and pliable nature of the current Nigerian judiciary that they sang that song with such ecstasy. That way Dongban-Mensem, would not not have to cry out about how election cases have overshadowed the entire judiciary system by the sheer number. In other words, the only way of stopping the deluge is to do justice. That way, electoral brigands will have no reason to continue in their bad behaviour. If they continue enabling the criminals, not only the judiciary but the entire polity would continue to suffer.

The judges Nigerians would remember with nostalgia and continue to celebrate are probably turning in their graves right now with revulsion at the notoriety of the bench they left behind. Such judges were the ones who took their decisions based on interpreting the law in totality. They were the ones who in their pronouncements, showcased that law indeed is made up of the letters and spirit, thus accentuating its organic nature and relevance to the society. Law is not for sake of law. Law is for the sake of man and society. That must be emphasised.

It is such raw, indisputable boldness and courage that delivered that heavy blow to the impunity demonstrated in the Rotimi Amaechi case in 2007. Ordinarily the former Rivers State Governor, would have been told to go home and lick his wounds, if he had presented his case today. But the judges demonstrated that they were part of Nigeria and decided to go for the spirit of the law in righting the wrong embedded in the impunity of one man authority, who posed a danger to democracy.

It was still within the same period that Peter Obi, against the moving train that was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got justice in the Tenure Determination Case, and was restored to power, even as a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), one of the least influential political entities in Nigeria at that time.

That obviously ought to be the judiciary Agabi should be cloaking in the toga of brilliance and boldness and not the obviously timid, lethargic and probably compromised judiciary of today that would permit the type of judicial murder that saw Dave Umahi and Godswill Akpabio return to the Senate after contesting presidential elections in one circle. How could such a judiciary earn the type of respect the former AGF envisages?

Imaging the cacophony of contradictions that are coming out from the election petition tribunals in the states – judges giving with one hand and taking with the other at the same time – in shameful display of outlandish pronouncements. Are they reflective of the type of judiciary that Nigerians would ignore and celebrate?

Certainly no! In the unlikely case that the present Nigerian judiciary has forgotten the colour of justice, only a scratch back to history would reveal it in the eternal description of the late Chukwudifu Oputa, one of the unforgettable minds that had ever sat on the noble and exalted position of the Nigerian bench.

Indeed, the only argument Agabi seemed to have got right is when he reminded his audience that whatever decisions they made or failed to make in the journey towards delivering justice, they must account for them, if not on earth, before their creator when they die, as many of them are doing right now.

But beyond that the eternal words of Oputa, Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), as he then was, remains enduring – Justice to the accused, justice to the accuser and justice to the society. That is what Nigerians want and demand, without which, everything is but a white-painted sepulcher, beautiful outside but habours rotten remains in its bowels.

Nobody needs be told that the Nigerian society have continued to hold the short end of the stick in this context. But so long as it is denied its own share of justice, the judiciary would continue to suffer and endure the bespattering image from the paintbrush of shame! No more no less!


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Many Nigerians will suffer heart attack by Tinubu’s details – Atiku *Protect me, President pleads with US court



By the vibes coming from the camp of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Bola Tinubu, might as well be wasting his time in trying to conceal his academic records with the Chicago State University (CSU), because the details are in already in its firm grips.

This is coming as the Nigerian President, on Monday, pleaded with a United States District Judge, Nancy Maldonado, to order the institution to protect his privileged information such as admission records, transcripts and gender and release only his certificate to the legal team of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Pedro Obaseki, Director of Research and Strategy of the Atiku/Okowa 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, while alleging that the claim by Tinubu that the release of his record to the public would cause him personal pain was because the owner of the disputed certificate is a woman.

Speaking at a Zoom conference hosted by a London-based psychologist, Gold Emmanuel on Monday, Obaseki, said CSU would only confirm what Atiku’s camp already knew by making public the record of Tinubu who graduated from the institution in the late 70s.

He said: “Nigerians will be more demoralised that the owner of the certificate that President Tinubu is parading is a woman. We already know it as a fact, but we are seeking the release of the documents officially by CSU. Wetin the man dey hide, we already have it. The outcome will give many Nigerians more heart attacks.”

Coming against the backdrop of the former Vice President, securing an order from a US magistrate, Jeffrey Gilbert, for CSU to make Tinubu’s academic records available to his legal team, Tinubu argued through Christopher Carmichael, his lawyer that “the most critical fact has already been clearly and unequivocally established” the CSU and that Atiku had got all he needed in the matter.

Atiku, had through Angela Liu, his own lawyer sought Tinubu’s records, including his admission and acceptance at CSU, dates of attendance, degrees, awards and honours attained by the former governor of Lagos State at the university, among others.

Tinubu had approached Maldonado, shortly after the ruling of the lower court to seek extension of time, specifically praying for the order to be delayed till Monday, to enable its review by a district judge, which was granted.

In his fresh argument, the President pleaded with Maldonado to release only the certificate and preclude Tinubu’s other privileged records, saying: “The most critical fact has already been clearly and unequivocally established by Chicago State University: Intervenor was awarded the degree as he stated. This point is irrelevant to the applicant because he is not seeking anything more than opposition research on a political opponent.

“The magistrate judge clearly erred in granting the application for discovery and concluding that Chicago State University must respond to the document and deposition subpoenas. That conclusion should be set aside and the application should be denied because the information sought cannot be used and therefore is not ‘for use’ in the foreign proceedings.

“Even if a narrow subset of information can be considered ‘for use’ in the foreign proceeding, that is limited to the diploma submitted to INEC. Fishing expeditions into other documents and more document productions must be precluded.”

The development is coming two days after the self-acclaimed classmate of the President, Olajide Adeniji, testified in the US district court that he knows and contested against Tinubu as President of the Accounting Society Club at the Department of Business Admin/Accounting in the same Chicago State University.

In the oath he took on September 23 at the Northern District of Illinois Court in Chicago, Adeniji swore that he was familiar with the same Tinubu who is the current President of Nigeria.

The PUNCH, however reports that Atiku is insisting that all the details, quoting his spokesman, Phrank Shaibu, as saying: “We are aware Tinubu’s counsel filed a motion on Monday praying the US court to order Chicago State University to release only the president’s certificate.

“We are wondering why a man will demand they conceal his gender and other little details in his academic transcript. But we (Atiku’s legal team) will respond to them in the next 48 hours. The judgment will be entered by Wednesday or Thursday.”

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BREAKING: Sanwo-Olu wins! You case is dead on arrival, tribunal tells Jandor, dismisses GRV too



Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor, is singing a victory song again as the challenge launched by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV) of the Labour Party (LP) and Babajide Adediran, alias Jandor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against his victory in the March 18 governorship election in the state, has come to naught.

The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, threw out the petitions of both candidates and their parties against Sanwo-Olu, while affirming him as the rightfully elected governor of Lagos State, the second time he would be victorious both at the polls and the tribunal, clearing the way for an enjoyment of another term of four years, which began on May 29, 2023.

The tribunal, not only threw out the contentions of both the LP, which came second and his PDP counterpart that came third on grounds of non-qualification, but also dismissed other claims, particularly by GRV, that he did not score the highest valid votes in the highly contentious election.

The argument made by the petitioners on both grounds lacked merit, the three-member panel headed by Justice Arum Ashom, with Igho Braimoh and Mikhail Abdullah who read the lead judgement, held, adding specifically in the case of Jandor, who had questioned Sanwo-Olu’s educational qualification, that the governor was educated up to secondary school, as envisaged by law.

Specifically Abdullahi stated both his governor and his deputy were members of the APC but also had the requisite education, stressed that section 177 of the constitution stipulated that: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of governor of a state if: (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of thirty-five years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) he has been educated up to at least a School Certificate level or its equivalent.

“We have considered the evidence before this court. He has the highest number of votes. This petition is dead on arrival in view of the evidence adduced before the court. The grounds on which the petitioners are seeking disqualification of 2nd and 3rd respondents lack merit. I have found Gov Sanwo-Olu and deputy Hamzat duly elected and therefore declared the winner.”

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