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BREAKING: Tinubu frustrates Atiku! *US court refuses to compel speedy FBI’s release of President’s records

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Atiku Abubakar, has lost his bid to compel the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to release the confidential records of President, Bola Tinubu, his second recourse to the US court to help him in his ongoing bid to oust the President through the courts before the Supreme Court, where he is pushing to prove that he is not qualified to contest the 2023 election.

Atiku, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was beaten to the second position, in the election, according to the result released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through which Tinubu was declared the winner and subsequently sworn into office on May 29, 2023, had failed to get his wish at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, sitting as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).

The former Vice President, had earlier persuaded the District Court in Illinois to order the Chicago State University (CSU), Tinubu claimed to have attended to release his academic records in the institution, with which he rushed to the Supreme Court to file a case of forgery, claiming that the certificate the President claimed to have obtained, was different from what he submitted to INEC prior to the election.

He had planned to support this claim with the report of the FBI, which he believed contained damning details that would have nailed the President and proved that he not only forged his  papers, but he is indeed an identity thief, prompting him to approach a US court to compel the crime-busting organisation to hasten the process.

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But the move, however failed as the court, refused to accede to his request on Monday in its decision, said Aaron Greenspan, a transparency activist running Plainsite, who filed the case on behalf of the former VP, did not adequately justify his request for an urgent hearing on his motion for expedited release of records, especially against the need to protect Tinubu’s interest.

Greenspan, who had on July 21, 2022, filed a Freedom of Information request asking the country’s agencies to release Tinubu’s records, followed with an emergency motion on Friday, October 20, seeking the immediate release of the records.

The latest motion, urged Justice Beryl Howell to quickly order the FBI,  State Department and other U.S. bodies to immediately turn over records they scheduled for release before the end of October, ostensibly to preempt the proceedings at the apex court in Nigeria, where an intense legal battle ensued between Tinubu and his accusers on Monday.

But in her verdict on the same day, Howell of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington D.C. ruled: “Plaintiff’s emergency motion for a hearing to compel immediate document production is denied. No hearing to determine the merits of this motion is necessary.”

Tinubu, who had rushed to the same court to stall the case, a move Greenspan explained, was an attempt to slow-walk the release of the documents, which the agencies had previously stipulated would be released in batches effective October ending, to foreclose any impact the disclosures might have on the ongoing election dispute at the Nigerian Supreme Court.

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The US rights campaigner had joined the Executive Office for US Attorneys, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service and the US Drug Enforcement Administration, as defendants.

The President’s counter motion seeking to intervene or be an intervenor in the case, pleading with the court to stop the said groups from releasing records related to his residence in the US, was particularly for the court to intervene in the case between Aaron Greenspan (Plaintiff) and Executive Office for US Attorneys, et al. (Defendants) with Civil Action No. 23-1816 (BAH).

Tinubu’s confidential tax record, which the Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from disclosing by federal law, and documents from federal law enforcement agencies that fall within the Privacy Act or exceptions to FOIA and should not be disclosed.

Greenspan had followed political controversies in Nigeria since his website was besieged by Nigerians looking for information about the 1993 case that saw Tinubu forfeit over $460,000 to the U.S. government after being caught laundering proceeds of narcotics trafficking in Chicago.

The records Greenspan seeks could potentially help provide clarity around Tinubu’s real identity, especially the name under which he first travelled to the United States decades ago. The Nigerian president has been known to use clashing identities in the past.

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But the judge, Howell, in her decision, said Greenspan did not adequately justify his request for an urgent hearing on his motion for expedited release of records, especially against the need to protect Tinubu’s interest.

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“Plaintiff has not made any representation to the court that the balance of equities tips in his favour or that the granting of his motion would further the public interest,” Ms Howell said. “Given that the FOIA request is for records that, if any exist, may be of a highly sensitive and private nature and that the subject of those documents, Bola A. Tinubu, has had no opportunity to protect his privacy interests in any such records, the balance of equities militates strongly in favour of denying this emergency motion.”

The judge also approved Tinubu’s request to allow his lawyer, Christopher Carmichael, to appear in the case, although she has yet to rule on the president’s motion to intervene in the matter.

Earlier, the U.S. Department of Justice, represented by Matthew Graves, had said the government would not be taking any position as to whether Tinubu should join the case or not.

“On behalf of defendants, the undersigned counsel does not take a position as to whether the court should grant Bola Tinubu’s motion to intervene. Mr. Tinubu should be allowed to intervene because he has a direct interest in the records sought, his interests are not fully represented or protected by Defendants, and his interests will be adversely affected if he is not permitted to intervene.”

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Soyinka, terror to dictators, face of democracy – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, spared no nice words in showering accolades on Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate on Literature, extolling his democratic credentials, ending it all with the renaming of the National Theatre as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts, in honour 90th birthday of the celebrated playwright, novelist and activist.

The President’s sentiments, on Soyinka, a professor of literature, globally celebrated essayist, actor, singer, composer, and documentarian, who brought great honour to Africa and Nigeria when he won the coveted prize in 1986, was conveyed by Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman in a statement, ahead of the birthday on Saturday, July 13.

Describing him as one of the finest minds of his generation; conforming to the highest standards of human enlightenment, but unyielding to injustice, oppression, and base impulses, Tinubu hailed his long-time friend, with whom he was in the trenches some three decades ago, during the June 12, 1993 struggle.

The statement, which stressed that Tinubu also hailed Soyinka as one of Nigeria’s living repositories of history, knowledge, and courage, and commended him for his valiant efforts in the trenches for the nation’s future both as a pro-democracy champion and as a trenchant voice against corruption and maladministration over several decades, recalled the days of the struggle.

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His words: “Our paths crossed during our just struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. When faced with a trial in absentia and death sentence by the military regime at home, he galvanized opposition in exile through NALICON and NADECO. His global stature made him the face of our struggle to validate June 12 and restore democracy in Nigeria.”

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Wishing him many more years in good health and creative fulfilment as a global force for change, he added: “Today, I join the world to celebrate his profound influence on generations of writers, scholars, and activists who have been inspired by his work. I celebrate him for giving us the spark to fight and confront military dictators in our country.

“I am, accordingly, delighted to have the honour to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

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S’Court: No more allocations to 37 Development centres in Lagos, others  

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The 37 Local Government Development Centres (LGDC), created in Lagos in 2003, during the tenure of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as Governor of the state, may have been dealt a hard blow, as they will no longer be captured in the funding bracket of the state, going by the interpretation of Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court, by some legal minds.

One of those who believe that by the judgement, the councils have lost their source of funding, following the pronouncement of the courts that allocations from the Federation Account be paid directly into the accounts of recognised entities is, Mike Ozekhome, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Lagos has 20 local governments originally created by the Federal Government, while the 37 LGDCs, were created by the Tinubu administration, in a bid to further take governance to the grassroots, a development, which led to a bitter feud between the government and the Federal Government under the President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In fact, throughout the period Obasanjo was in power after the creation of the LGDCs, the state was denied its council allocations, as a punishment to the state, following the former President’s aversion to the move.

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It was only the government of Umaru Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s successor, who released the entire entitlements to the state, when he assumed power in 2007, after the state had funded the councils from its own resources for four years.

Ozekhome, a renowned constitutional lawyer,  who was a guest of The Morning Brief, a breakfast programme on Channels Television, on Friday, told his host that Thursday’s apex court judgement on the autonomy of the councils, made it clear that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) would not send funds to local government areas headed by caretaker committee chairmen, or development centres.

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Hear him: “The judgement of the government is clear. If you want to receive funds from the federation account, then conduct an election. If what you have in place is a caretaker committee as local government chairman, be sure that it will not have money from the federation account.

“What this law is saying is that if you are not a democratically elected local government council, you cannot have this money under section 162 subsection 5 and 6 of the 199 Constitution. So, what it means is that money should now be ploughed to those local governments that are in existence democratically.”

The only remedy, he stated was for the state to find ways of funding the development centres from the allocations of the councils, adding: “They can do that internally to share. That is their internal business. Nobody can control that one. But for now, the money can only go to those local government areas named in the constitution. Don’t forget they are even named in the constitution, 774 local governments. If you want money from the federation account, such councils must be democratically elected.”

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The apex court not only endorsed full local government autonomy and ordering that funds from the FAAC be paid directly to their accounts, but also barred governors from henceforth dissolving democratically elected officials for local governments adding that doing so would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution.

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Tinubu completely caged, now surrounded by thieves, Ndume insists

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Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South at the National Assembly, on Thursday dug deeper in his earlier revelations putting Nigerians on notice that President Bola Tinubu is currently under a cocoon thrown around him by his aides, who have used the opportunity to mindlessly fleece the national till.

A guest of Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise News Network, Ndume, Chief Whip of the Senate, told his host that the seat of power has now been captured by “kakistocrats” – a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens and kleptocrats – one run by thieves.

Absolving Tinubu of complicity in the alleged massive thievery he alleged that the Presidential Villa and top government bodies have become, he said: “The government is also populated by kleptocrats, but unfortunately that is not what the President is up to. He really meant renewed hope, but you can only do that when you have people around you that are on the same type of thinking.”

Ndume one of the longest serving members of NASS, explained that much as Tinubu, whom he described as a close political associate and a democrat, would always be quick to act on any act of malfeasance that came to his attention, such as his recent repudiation of the Cyber-crime bill, the said unscrupulous aides, had been doing much to keep him away from some critical information.

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Hear him: “When the president realised that he had not heard about it, he quickly suspended it.” He highlighted the significant challenge of hunger and food scarcity, mentioning that inflation has risen to 40%. In some places, even with your money, you won’t find the food items you want to buy, which is very dangerous..

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“Nigeria has never been included among countries facing severe food crises or food insecurity, but recent UN and World Food Programme figures rank Nigeria as a hotspot. For people like me, I have to be scared because I’m 64 years old with 10 children, 20 grandchildren, and I don’t have a passport or visa to anywhere.

“Some Ministers only meet the president during council meetings and that the President is often the first to leave. I’m the chief whip, and if the chief whip can’t have access to the president, the new senators won’t have access either. During the time of President (Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration, any senator could see the president within 24 hours.

“President Tinubu is caged in. There are no visible efforts by the government to address pressing issues like climate change. The President has to harness Nigeria’s natural and human resources. He must get the right people into office and dominate his government with democrats. The president needs people who will realise his dream and tell him when something is wrong.”

Ndume who also bemoaned the effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy, argued that much as it was a good move to eliminate corruption and allow savings to benefit the people, measures must be taken to cushion such effects, like the introduction of food stamps, adding that presently the anger of Nigerians over their parlous situation could snowball into uncontrollable conflagration.

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