12th November, 2022
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has disowned a press release purportedly issued by it indicating that it is investigating the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu over alleged involvement in drug trafficking in the United States.
The press release allegedly signed by Festus Okoye, the Chairman of INEC Information and Voter Education had indicated that the electoral commission is liaising with Northern Illinois District Court to establish the veracity of the allegation against the APC candidate.
The fake press released carried 11, November, 2022 date.
But INEC, in a statement issued on Saturday signed by Festus Okoye categorically described the press release and all information in it as fake and contrived.
The Commission also said it has no plan to investigate Tinubu over alleged link with drug trafficking.
“We wish to state categorically that the said Press Release did not emanate from the Commission nor is it pursuing the purported course of action. It is the handiwork of mischief makers and utterly fake,” said INEC.
It therefore advised the public to ignore the purported press release.
“A Press Release purported to have been issued by the Commission has been trending online since yesterday Friday 11th November 2022.
“It claims that the Commission has commenced investigation into a case of criminal forfeiture against one of the Presidential candidates in the forthcoming General Election and is liaising with a Court in the United States of America in pursuit of same to determine possible violation of our guidelines or the Electoral Act 2022.
“We wish to state categorically that the said Press Release did not emanate from the Commission nor is it pursuing the purported course of action. It is the handiwork of mischief makers and utterly fake.
“Press Releases from the Commission are uploaded to the INEC Press Corps platform and simultaneously disseminated through our website and official social media handles.
“The public is advised to ignore the Press Release,” INEC said.
Members of opposition had last Tuesday resurrected a document allegedly linking the APC presidential candidate to drug trafficking in the US in 1993.
The document was first circulated by the opposition PDP in 2003 when Tinubu was seeking re-election.
However, it resurfaced weeks to the 2023 primary election of the APC, but failed to achieve the intended consequences of serving as basis for disqualification of Tinubu from the race.
However, in resurrecting the document, the opposition had described it as ‘certified true copy’ from the U.S. Court.
But Tinubu campaign’s media and publicity director, Bayo Onanuga said he had perused the new document and it was not different from the earlier ones.
“It is as dead as a dodo”, Onanuga told a news medium on Tuesday and made reference to a section of the campaign’s FAQ’s manual.
One of the unconscionable and wicked lies peddled by political opponents about Bola Ahmed Tinubu was to paint him erroneously as a drug baron.
The accusation arose out of an investigation by FBI agent Kevin Moss of Tinubu and Compass Investment and Finance accounts at First Heritage Bank and Citi- Bank in the U.S.
On January 10, 1992, Mr Kevin Moss requested and obtained a court order to freeze the accounts.
On January 13, 1992, Mr Moss telephoned Tinubu in Nigeria to justify the amounts in the accounts, running into $1.4 million. Part of the money was said to have been deposited by two Nigerians, being investigated for drug offences.
After the telephone conversation, Tinubu instructed his lawyer in the US to file a lawsuit against the order freezing his accounts.
This dragged on till 15 September 1993, when an agreement was reached for an out of court settlement. Judge John A Nordberg, of the US district court for the Northern District of Illinois, read out the agreement reached by the two parties. Part of the funds, $460,000 was seized by the government.
The FBI never charged Tinubu with any drug offence; the case did not go on trial. Tinubu was never convicted. And he was never barred from entering the United States.
In 2003, ten years after, when the PDP opponents wanted to use the shuttered allegation to disqualify Tinubu from running for a second term in Lagos, the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun made an enquiry with the American Consulate on Tinubu’s status.
The Consulate gave Tinubu a clean bill in a reply by the Legal Attache, Michael H. Bonner.
The letter read:
“Our sincerest greetings to you and all of the law enforcement personnel in the Nigeria Police Force, whose continued assistance is very much appreciated. In relation to your letter, dated February 3, 2003, reference number SR. 3000/IGPSEC/ABJ/VOL. 24/287, regarding Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a records check of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) was conducted.
“The results of the checks were negative for any criminal arrest records, wants, or warrants for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (DOB 29 March 1952). For information of your department, NCIC is a very centralised information centre that maintains the records of every criminal arrest and conviction within the United States and its territories.”
Almost thirty years after the allegation was discharged and the case declared dead, Tinubu’s opponents keep waking up its corpse, in futile efforts to malign him.
*Culled from Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign: FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)