U.S.court’s released certified copy of drug/money laundering case rattles Tinubu’s team
Reports on the involvement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Sen Bola Tinubu, in a 1993 drug and money laundering case which resurfaced on Tuesday has rattled his campaign team.
The report detailed a certified true copy of the judgment delivered by a United States (US) District Court in Illinois, which ordered the forfeiture of $460,000 against Tinubu.
The 59-page court document sighted alleged that funds in an account held in First Heritage Bank with account number 263226700 operated by Bola Tinubu.
It said that money represented proceeds of narcotics trafficking in violation of US laws and consequently ordered that the funds amounting to $460,000 be forfeited to the government.
Reacting to the development, Bayo Onanuga, Director, Media and Publicity, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council dismissed the report stating that Tinubu was neverindicted for drug trafficking.
Onanuga dismissed the document as “the same old tale”, “a campaign of calumny”, and an attempt to wake up the carcass of a drug allegation in America that was buried in 1993.
“Long after the campaign failed in 2003, it resurfaced weeks to the primary election of the All Progressives Congress. The opponents thought it was lethal enough to make the APC disqualify Tinubu from the race.
“It failed spectacularly and Tinubu went on to win the primary with a landslide. The muckrakers are back again with the same story, dressed as ‘certified true copy’ from the US Court,” Onanuga said.
He explained that 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 US.
According to him, the court ordered on 10th January 1992 that the said accounts be frozen.
He said Moss telephoned Tinubu on 13th January, 1992, asking him to justify the amounts in the accounts running into $1.4 million, as part of the money was said to have been deposited by two Nigerians being investigated for drug offences.
Onanuga said after the phone call, Tinubu instructed his lawyer in the US to file a lawsuit against the order freezing his accounts and the matter dragged on till 15th 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,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, a former aviation minister and chieftain of the APC Femi Fani-Kayode pointed out that the US Ambassador to Nigeria would not have visited Tinubu if he was wanted in America, adding that those alleging he was convicted of drug trafficking 30 years ago in the US were ignorant and misinformed.
“If Asiwaju was a drug baron and if he was wanted in America, I doubt the US Ambassador would have visited his campaign office a few weeks ago to wish him well. I doubt that he would have avoided extradition all these years… he would not be the leading contender for the presidential election and the man to beat next year.
“The opposition is desperate and are doing all they can to discredit him before February next year. Despite their desperation, these dirty tactics, mudslinging and campaign of calumny against a profoundly good man that has done so much for our county will not work, ” Fani-Kayode added.
However, a public affairs analyst and advocate for good governance Dapo Rotifa argued that in the US, if one enters a no-contest plea, it means that, while you do not admit you’re guilty of the allegations against you, you do admit the truth of the facts alleged in indictment, information or complaint.
Rotifa added: “I wouldn’t agree to forfeiture of my legitimate and hard-earned $460,000 (a whopping sum by all US standards) on mere allegation of wrongdoing.
“I would fight it to the highest level if I was innocent. I would never accept or make any “no contest plea” bargain.”
Also commenting on the issue, a Nigerian media publisher in Durham North Carolina Jaiyeola Ajasa urged Tinubu to publicly refute the allegations and other controversies surrounding his person.
“The logical thing is for the candidate to go on television and refute this malicious allegations.
“Who do you people think you are fooling? Let him take people to court if he feels he is being lied on. Why is everything about him controversial?
“His birthday. His hometown. His primary school. His secondary school. His university education. His name. His parents. Why is everything not as it should be?
“It’s everybody’s fault. The preponderance of finding the truth falls on everybody but him. The simple thing is for him to explain himself.
“That is what people that have nothing to hide do. The silence and the distance that people like Yemi Osinbajo and Wole Soyinka have kept to your campaign speaks volume,” Ajasa said.