Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is once again under investigation in the United States in connection with a 1993 money laundering and drug-related case.
Last week, a verified copy of the over 30-year-old case appeared on social media. And Mr. Tinubu’s opponents have pounced. Daniel Bwala, the Atiku Abubakar campaign spokesman, also suggested that it could lead to Mr. Tinubu’s disqualification.
However, Mr. Tinubu’s camp has dismissed it as stale news. Bayo Onanuga, one of the spokespersons of the APC presidential campaign, described him as “dead as a dodo”.
Mr. Tinubu himself has refused to speak on the matter. Speaking at a town hall meeting with the miners in Nasarawa state, he said he would not respond to the ugly rumours.
A flashback to the case….
According to the certified copy of the case, on January 10, 1992, Magistrate Judge Rosemond of the Northern District of Illinois granted a prayer to seize the funds in 10 bank accounts belonging to Mr. Tinubu because the US government had reason to believe the accounts. were linked to narcotics-related operations.
The 10 accounts were opened at Chicago’s First Heritage Bank and Citi Bank in the late 80s to early 90s.
“On January 10, 1992, applications for seizure orders were filed with Magistrate Judge Rosemond of the Northern District of Illinois. After considering the applications and the attached affidavits, Magistrate Judge Rosemond issued attachment orders for the First Heritage Bank and Citibank accounts on behalf of Bola Tinubu. The amount of money seized from these accounts was over $1.4 million,” he says.
In an affidavit deposed to him, Kevin Moss, a special agent with the US Internal Revenue Service, stated that Mr. Tinubu had ties to two Chicago drug lords, Adegboyega Mueez Akande and Abiodun Agbele.
Mr. Moss stated that there is a nexus between Mr. Tinubu and the two alleged drug kingpins, especially Mr. Akande. The agent also disclosed that Mr. Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi Tinubu, who is now a senator, had a joint account with Mr. Audrey Akande’s wife.
The official also provided other links between Mr Tinubu and Mr Akande, including sharing a home address in Chicago. Mr Moss further questioned the entry in the accounts against Mr Tinubu’s income as an employee of Mobil.
“According to the bank records, Bola Tinubu also opened a joint checking account in his name and in the name of his wife, Oluremi Tinubu, Oluremi Tinubu previously opened a joint bank account in this bank also with Audrey Akande, wife of Adegboyega Mueez Akande,” said yours.
“According to the records of Citibank International, there were two additional corporate accounts held in the name of Compass Finance and Investment Company, Ltd. controlled by Bola Tinubu.
“The bank records of these accounts in the international division revealed that when Bola Tinubu opened these accounts at Citibank, International, he provided some corporate documents of Compass Finance and Investment Company Ltd., including documents identified as articles of association. The two corporate documents Mueez Adegboyega Akande and Abiodun Olasuyi Abele were identified as directors of Compass Finance and Investment Company, Ltd.
According to Mr. Moss, representatives of Mobile were interviewed and they stated that Mr. Tinubu’s position as the treasurer of the company does not involve the transfer of large sums of money in banks.
“Mobil Oil representatives were interviewed about Tinubu’s employment status. The representatives confirmed that Tinubu was employed by Mobil Oil Nigeria Ltd. as a treasurer. This attitude, however, does not presuppose the transfer of large sums of money between banking institutions.
“Representatives of Mobil Oil stated that under no circumstances would Tinubu allow the money belonging to Mobil oil to be kept in accounts in Tinubu’s name. Finally, Mobil Oil confirmed that the corporation had never had an account in the banks of the south suburbs of Chicago,” he stated.
However, the US government agreed to a deal with Mr. Tinubu, along with KO Tinubu (individually and on behalf of the Tinubu family) and Alhaji Mogati.
The agreement was reached in August 1993 when Mr. Tinubu was a senator in Nigeria.
The US government agreed to release the funds, however, it will leave $460,000 to the government.
“The parties agree that the funds held by Citibank shall be released to KO Tinubu and that the action brought against said funds held by Citibank in his accounts shall be dismissed without prejudice.
“The parties further agree that $460,000 in the account held by defendant Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu will be forfeited by the United States and liquidated in accordance with law. Any funds remaining in the account will be released to KO Tinubu,” reads an excerpt from the terms of the settlement.
It must be added that Mr. Tinubu was not impeached in the court document seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
2003 and the letter from the US consulate
The same case first came to light in 2003 when Mr. Tinubu was seeking re-election as governor of Lagos State. However, a letter sent by the US consulate to the then Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, put an end to the matter.
US consulate legal attaché Michael Bonner in response to a letter from Mr. Balogun stated that Mr. Tinubu has no criminal charges or indictments.
The letter, dated February 4, 2003, reference 011-234-1-261-0097 ext 244, and addressed to the then IGP, Mr. Balogun, said: “The FBI never charged Tinubu with any drug offence; the case did not go to trial. Tinubu was never convicted. And he was never banned from entering the US.”
“Regarding your letter of 3 February 2003, reference number SR. 3000/IGPSEC/ABJ
/VOL. 24/287, on Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a records check was conducted at the National Crime Intelligence Center (NCIC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The results of the checks were negative for any arrest warrant, want or warrant for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (dated March 29, 1952). For your department’s information, NCIC is a centralized information center that maintains records of all criminal arrests and convictions in the United States and its territories,” it reads in part.
$460,000 is tax – Festus Keyamo
One of the spokespersons of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo, a senior lawyer of Nigeria, while appearing on Channels TV, said that the $460,000 was collected from bank funds.
“The deposits he made there (in the banks) are what the bankers called investments; he kept the money there and earned interest. They (the US government) said he didn’t pay taxes on those interests. That’s all and guess what? Banks must deduct tax at source.
“Out of the 10 accounts, there was only one account – the one at Heritage Bank – that took $460,000 in interest tax on the benefit of his investment in those accounts,” he said.
Contrary to this claim, however, the court document did not mention the amount deducted as tax.
The Chicago affair takes the shine off town hall meetings
In the past week, Chicago issues dominated the news and took the shine off other issues, especially Mr. Tinubu’s town hall meetings with various groups in the two states.
Last week, Mr. Tinubu met with miners and stakeholders in the agro-processing industry and spoke about his plans for the sector. Despite his efforts to ignore the drug affair, it still dominated the news.
“We will not tolerate desperate campaigns without substance by others in divisive identity politics and the promotion of falsehoods and ugly rumours,” Mr Tinubu said in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
Mr. Tinubu, who has not honored debates with other candidates, has adopted town hall meetings with different sectors as a campaign strategy. Instead of the public conversation centering on the plans of the should-be president-elect, many Nigerians are seeking clarification on the 30-year-old case.
Also, in the last five days, the three PCC spokespersons, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, Mr. Onanuga and Mr. Keyamo have had to react to the issue.
On Friday, the campaign was hit by fake news Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was investigating the case. The commission rejected the claim in a statement.
The campaign, in a statement issued by Mr. Onanuga, called on the police to investigate the circulation of the forged INEC statement and bring those responsible to justice.
One thing is clear, the Chicago affair isn’t going away anytime soon.
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