*Says Section 137 of constitution makes APC candidate ineligible
*Insists presidential hopeful must address nation on allegation*Go to court, ex-Lagos gov is unstoppable, ruling party fires back
*Let’s unite to recover our country, Atiku urges Nigerians
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said it was considering legal options to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enforce the ruling of a United States court in Illinois, Chicago, indicting the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, of drug-related offences.
National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said this at a press conference in Abuja, stressing, “All options are on the table as we have done before.”
According to the PDP, Section 137 of the 1999 Constitution barred Tinubu from contesting next year’s presidential election because he has been indicted for drug-related offences and Nigeria is signatory to international conventions on drugs and money laundering.
Similarly, the Atiku/Okowa campaign group, has asked Tinubu to stop hiding and pointing fingers over his alleged involvements in drugs dealing but address the nation on what he knew as far as the matter is concerned.
But Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of APC described Tinubu as unstoppable ahead of next year’s election and challenged PDP to go to court if it felt strongly about the situation.
This is as the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has urged Nigerians to unite and recover Nigeria from the APC, because power belonged to the people.
PDP, however, said it was considering all options, including legal action, to make INEC do the needful, as the party did in the cases of Ekiti and Osun states.
In those two cases, PDP had challenged the governorship primaries and conventions conducted by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Addressing a press conference, Ologunagba said Tinubu was complicit in the drug related conviction, because there would be no forfeiture of assets if he were not an accessory to the crime.
PDP called on “INEC not to succumb to the blackmail of the APC but to be focused and carry out its duties in accordance with the constitution and the Electoral Act so as to engender confidence in the citizens with respect to the integrity of those seeking public office in our country.”
The PDP national publicity secretary stated, “Despite the unrelenting attacks by the All Progressives Congress (APC), as witnessed in our presidential campaign rallies in Kaduna and Borno states, our party has remained undeterred in the bid to rescue our nation from the suffocating misrule of the APC.
“However, as we prepare for the 2023 general election, the APC is busy scheming to create tension, induce violence, frustrate the conduct of the 2023 general election and derail our democratic process, having realised that it does not have an eligible presidential candidate for the polls.
“It is no longer news that the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is irredeemably and hopelessly ineligible to contest the February 2023 presidential election, having been reportedly indicted and subjected to criminal forfeiture judgement for a narcotic related offence by a United States court in Northern Illinois.
“Nigerians are, however, appalled by the lame attempt by the APC presidential campaign, which after admitting that there was a $460,000 drug money criminal forfeiture judgement against accounts traced to Tinubu, is now desperately trying to pull a wool over the eyes of the Nigerian people and our democratic institutions.
“Seeing that it is technically out of the presidential contest and further distraught, because it cannot also field candidates at all levels in the 2023 general election due to its illegal and unconstitutional congresses, the APC has resorted to unleashing hoodlums to attack PDP presidential campaign rallies and other innocent Nigerians going about their legitimate endeavours, as witnessed in Kaduna and Borno states, in a bid to trigger crisis and scuttle the elections.”
Ologunagba said further, “There are already apprehensions in the public space of unrefuted allegations that the APC is behind the orchestrated attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices in Ogun and Osun states. The plan of the APC is to instil fear in the citizenry, disorganise and weaken other political parties, frighten, hamstring and immobilise INEC from conducting the 2023 general election.
“The APC must note that its schemes, denials, threats and resort to violence cannot help Asiwaju Tinubu. By the provision of Section 137 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Asiwaju Tinubu is not eligible to contest the presidential election in Nigeria.
“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.
“For clarity, forfeiture means ‘something to which the right is lost as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract’.
“It is instructive to note that trafficking in narcotic is an international crime to which all nations are obliged and mandated to apprehend, prosecute and enforce any judgement or court order imposed on offender. Nigeria being a signatory to international convention on trafficking in narcotic is obliged to enforce any order or judgement imposed on any offender by a competent court anywhere in the world.”For emphasis, the US Court ‘Ordered that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account 263226700 held by First Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu represents proceeds of 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 S98’.
“Having been sentenced and fined by way of criminal forfeiture of $460,000 drug money in a criminal suit filed pursuant to the United States Criminal Code, Asiwaju Tinubu cannot by virtue of Section 137 (1)(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) seek office as President of Nigeria.
“Nigerians now know that the APC presidential campaign announcement that its presidential candidate will not participate in media debates is to prevent Nigerians from seeking answers from Asiwaju Tinubu with respect the criminal forfeiture judgement as well as other burning issues to which Nigerians are entitled to know.
“Of course, our nation cannot afford the embarrassment, shame, national indignity and stigma associated with narcotic all over the world, especially, in the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Ologunagba insisted that Nigeria could not handle the massive negative collateral damage such issue will have on the national image, economy as well as on businesses and legitimate endeavours of hardworking Nigerians.
Corroborating Ologunagba, the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation has also tasked Tinubu to come out boldly and defend his reported link to the whopping sum of $460,000 he forfeited to the United States rather than hiding behind a finger and sending his media aides to attack other Nigerians.
In a statement, Kola Ologbondiyan, one of the spokespersons of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation, said, “Our campaign insists that the burden before Asiwaju Tinubu is to cleanse himself of being linked to illicit funds by a court in the United States rather than searching for scapegoats and pointing index finger on others whereas the remaining are pointing to his direction.
“Is it not absurd that rather than proving his innocence by personally telling Nigerians the truth about the forfeiture judgment, Asiwaju Tinubu is allowing his aides, who were not principal witnesses in the crime, to issue threats and vituperations on Nigerians?
“This accounts for why the campaign is singing discordant tunes on taxation while Asiwaju Tinubu himself is labouring to dismiss the case as ‘a rumour’. This is very laughable!
“Our campaign wants Asiwaju Tinubu to know that Nigerians are still waiting for him to address the very serious issue of alleged link with narcotics for which a forfeiture judgment was imposed on him.
But the Director, Media and Publicity, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, in a Facebook post, challenged the main opposition party to go to court.
Onanuga stated, “The fragmented and emasculated PDP turned itself into an accuser, prosecutor and judge today, asking Asiwaju Tinubu to quit the presidential race. What a comedy!
“His call followed the release of the 30 year-old US document its agents and media lapdogs have been spreading. Now, at least, we know that the party and their candidate are behind the shameful campaign of calumny.
“Mr. Ologunagba, stop dreaming! Your party can go to court, if it likes. But what we know is that Asiwaju is unstoppable, by the grace of God. He will contest the election, win it, retire Atiku to Dubai and finally stop him from perennially chasing the elusive presidential trophy.”
Meanwhile, Atiku, in a statement, said, “When we work together to recover Nigeria, then, we would make a bold statement that power truly belongs to the people. Let me remind you again, that the ultimate goal of the upcoming election is to recover Nigeria from the suffocating grip of the APC,” he stated.
Atiku said that for more than seven years, the APC had knelt on the necks of Nigerians, explaining that, “it is why I am in this election: to recover Nigeria and restore the country.
“Would the APC recover Nigeria from itself? It’s a sure NO! Voting the APC in the next election is a vote for a continuation of the current privation. And that’s why I would like that you join hands with me to make sure that Nigeria wins in the election next February.
“When we defeat the APC and Nigeria wins, the victory is all ours,” Atiku explained.