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PDP Asks Court to Declare Tinubu Ineligible to Contest

It insists the former Lagos governor cannot stand for election by virtue of Section 137 of the Nigerian Constitution.

Kola Ologbondiyan

The Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organisation said it has resolved to approach the court to declare the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu ineligible to contest the February 25 presidential election having “been convicted” in a United States court.

The spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Kola Ologbondiyan, while addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja, said it would also approach the court to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately delist Tinubu as the presidential candidate of APC or any other political party for that matter and expunge his name from all materials and documents related to the next month’s presidential election.

He said Nigerians were not unaware of the matter concerning Tinubu, with respect of his “criminal” conviction and sentencing by a court of competent jurisdiction in the United States over a case of trafficking in narcotic for which Tinubu forfeited the sum of $460,000 to the state.

Ologbondiyan said for the avoidance of doubt, the United States Court in sentencing Tinubu had ordered, “that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account 263226700 held by First Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu represent 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 S981.”

The spokesperson stated categorically that from the declaration of the court and the sentencing, it was clear that Tinubu was summarily convicted by the court, while adding that the former governor of Lagos state took no step to challenge the judgment, but acceded to the forfeiture of the $460,000 found to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.

Ologbondiyan pointed out that it was already established that trafficking in narcotics was an international crime which all nations were obligated by international conventions and statutes to arrest, prosecute and implement any court judgment imposed on offenders anywhere in the world, as well as the consequential effects of such judgements.

He said: “You will further recall that as our great party, the PDP had already established, the presidential candidate of the APC, having been 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 (as amended). 

“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 having 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 election at any level in Nigeria.

“The effect is that the listing of the name of Bola Tinubu, who stands 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.”

The spokesperson emphasised that Nigeria remains a signatory to such international conventions and therefore was mandatorily obligated to implement the consequential effect of the conviction imposed on Tinubu by a Court of Competent jurisdiction in the case of trafficking in narcotics.

Against this background, Ologbondiyan said the PDP campaign was heading to court to file for accelerated hearing in the interest of the nation.

He said the country’s laws, “do not permit a convict, let alone an individual convicted on account of international crime of trafficking in narcotic, to stand election at any level. Nigeria cannot afford the embarrassment of having a convict hold office at any level against our laws.”

Ologbondiyan added: “Consequently, our campaign has proceeded to the court demanding the court to: Declare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, having been convicted, as ineligible to contest the Presidential election by virtue of section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Compel INEC to immediately delist Asiwaju Tinubu as 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.”

Ologbondiyan, therefore, urged all those wasting their funds, time and energy on Tinubu to put their resources to better use as his gaffe infested, showboating presidential ambition has practically come to the end of the road.

Asked why the PDP waited till this time to approach the court, Ologbondiyan said It didn’t matter when the party decided to court, saying the main opposition party had resolved to test the country’s laws.

 Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja