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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, on Monday, dragged the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, to court, urging the Independent National Electoral Commission to delist him from the February 25 election on the premise of an alleged criminal case of trafficking in drugs that led to his sentencing by a court of competent jurisdiction in the United States and his subsequent forfeiture of the sum of $460,000 to the US authorities.
The council made the demand in Abuja at a press conference by the spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan.
Ologbondiyan expressed the determination of the campaign council to file for an accelerated hearing in the case in the interest of the nation as Nigeria’s laws do not permit an alleged convict, let alone an individual convicted on account of the international crime of trafficking in narcotics, to stand election at any level, adding that Nigeria cannot afford the embarrassment of having an alleged convict hold office at any level.
He added that the campaign council is praying the court to “Declare Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, having been allegedly convicted, as ineligible to contest the Presidential election by virtue of section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution.
“Compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately delist Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the 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.
Recall the Directorate of Strategy and communications of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Council on Sunday asked the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Department of State Security, DSS, and the Inspector General of Police, IGP to arrest and prosecute Mr Tinubu for the alleged crime.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the United States Court in sentencing Asiwaju Tinubu ordered, ‘that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in the name of Tinubu represents proceeds of alleged 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, 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,” it stressed.
Ologbondiyan further noted that “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.
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“You will further recall that the PDP had already established that the presidential candidate of the APC, having been allegedly 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.
“For clarity, Section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that:(1) 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 have 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 the election at any level in Nigeria.
“The effect is that the listing of the name of Bola Tinubu, who stands allegedly 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 further noted.
The campaign council called on those “those wasting their funds, time and energy” on Tinubu to back out immediately and focus on things more important to the nation.
Responding to the PDP press conference, the spokesman for the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, described the Atiku/Okowa Organization as a body deficient in ideas and originality.
Keyamo noted that until its APC counterpart took Atiku to court for alleged confession to have fraudulently helped himself to state resources while serving as Vice President; the PDP council did not know the road to court.
He said, “Why did they wait all these months until we filed before they are now rushing to court? I challenged them more than two months ago, yet they did nothing. It shows a team that is lacking in originality, lacking in ideas, and lacking in vision.
“It is just an attempt to create a counter-suit to our own. Unfortunately for them, Nigerians have seen through them already. They are Special Purpose Vehicles advocates that are trying to turn the tide of public opinion. Nigerians have decided; Nigerians have rejected them.
“This is so laughable that Nigerians are beginning to see that these are remorseless people; leopards that cannot change their skin.
“Instead of Atiku to face the cameras, shed some tears and apologize to the nation for abusing his office as Vice President with Special Purpose Vehicles, his reply, in summary, is, ‘what-about-you-too?’ This is disastrously sad,” Keyamo said. ,
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