Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party during the February 25 presidential election, has strongly asserted that President Bola Tinubu’s declaration as the winner of the poll was both unjust and unconstitutional.
Atiku, who is currently challenging Tinubu’s victory before the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, firmly insists on Tinubu being removed from his position as the winner.
In his final address supporting his petition to nullify Tinubu’s election, Atiku emphasized that Tinubu’s involvement in a $460,000 drug-related forfeiture case in the US, as admitted by Tinubu himself and confirmed by witnesses, disqualifies him from running for Nigeria’s presidency.
Atiku refuted Tinubu and his witness’ claim that the forfeiture of the $460,000 was part of a civil court action, arguing that the nature and classification of the case as “civil action” is irrelevant.
He pointed out that a United States of America Court took action based on Tinubu’s indictment before imposing the forfeiture fine on him.
Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, presented the final address, which stated the following points:
The forfeiture of $460,000 by Tinubu to the United States Government, a competent authority in this case, is not disputed by any of the respondents.
The records from the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, dated September 15, 1993, show that the funds were seized as proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
Tinubu’s witness, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, acknowledged under cross-examination that the American court judgment affected Tinubu, as his name was on the court records.
While Tinubu did not deny the forfeiture of the $460,000 for narcotics trafficking and money laundering, he tried to distinguish between civil and criminal forfeiture and argued that the offense was committed over a decade ago.
The counsel argued that regardless of the distinction between civil and criminal forfeiture, both are rooted in the commission of a crime, and forfeiture means the divestiture of property without compensation due to a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty.
Atiku urged the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to utilize Section 137 of the 1999 Constitution to nullify Tinubu’s victory.