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 PDP Dismisses Tinubu’s Denials on $460,000 Forfeited in the US 

It Insists the forfeiture establishes links to drug money.

The Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation on Thursday said after a review of issues arising from linking of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to a drug cartel surmised that the forfeiture of $460,000 by the former Lagos governor to the authorities of the United States of America established his connection to drug money.

In a statement, one of the PDP presidential campaign spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “Our campaign maintains that Nigeria as a nation cannot afford to allow an individual with the remotest link to a drug cartel near the presidential Villa.

“We insist that the mention of  Tinubu’s name in a crime bordering on drugs and consequent upon which some monies were forfeited, raises a moral question and issues of serious national security threat.”

Furthermore, Ologbondiyan asked: “How, for instance, will our nation cope with a president who will be consistently harassed, intimidated and blackmailed by a drug cartel?

“It is also disturbing that Tinubu’s handlers are running around an ocean of excuses from where they have been fetching what they believe will convince Nigerians.

“We ask; what business was  Tinubu running that such a whopping sum of $460,000 would be deducted as tax from his account?”
The PDP presidential campaign spokesman said that it was easily deducible that the $460,000 removed from the account represented the illicit fund that accrued from the drug.

He further stated, “That accounts for the reason why no other sum was removed from the account contrary to argument from Tinubu’s minders that the amount represented a tax.

“If indeed, like Tinubu’s handlers have said, Tinubu ‘took responsibility’ for drugs money, it goes without saying that he must also take responsibility for the consequences of that action.”

In a related development, in an article he published on Instagram titled: “Incontrovertible Proof That Festus Keyamo Lied About Bola Tinubu’s Drug Related Asset Forfeiture,” a supporter of the PDP presidential candidate, Reno Omokri, pointed out that on November 9, 2022, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, appeared on Channels TV’s Politics Today and told the presenter, Seun Okinbaloye that the monies Bola Tinubu forfeited to the US Government was just tax.

“To show that Festus Keyamo is a liar whose words can’t be trusted, consider that whereas he told Seun the money Tinubu forfeited was tax, right there on paragraph 1 of the court document, it says the funds were forfeited pursuant to 21 U.S.C. section 881. That section of the US Code deals with DRUG MONEY!
“The section of the US Code reads as follows: The following shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States and no property right shall exist in them:

(6) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter.
“Please note that the words “controlled substance” refers to narcotics, or to put it simply, hard drugs, such as white heroin, which Bola Tinubu’s cartel was trafficking in.

“And to show that Festus Keyamo lied to Seun, the account was opened in December of 1989, and frozen in January of 1992. The money in the account could not have generated enough revenue to attract a $460k tax bill in just 2 years. This was a forfeiture of DRUG MONEY. Pure and simple!”
Court documents from the United States had revealed how Tinubu forfeited $460, 000 to the American government in 1993 over alleged complicity in hard drugs dealings and money laundering.

The Certified True Copy of the court documents, which included the judgement delivered by Magistrate John Nordberg of a United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, was dated August 10, 2022, and signed by Thomas Bruton and Johnny Khuu, both Clerk and Deputy Clerk, respectively, of US District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

The documents revealed how Tinubu and his associates were involved in the distribution of white heroin and money laundering between 1988 and 1992, when investigations closed in on them.

According to the documents Tinubu’s involvement in the shady deal was traced to the arrest of one Abiodun Agbele, who was nephew to one Adegboyega Mueez Akande, a major drug trafficker between the US and Nigeria.

The document read in part, “Beginning as early as 1998, Adegboyega Mueez Akande, with others operated an organisation which distributed white heroin, a controlled substance under Title 21 of the United States Code.

“This distribution operation was conducted on a large scale and the proceeds of the operation substantial.”

In a Verified Complaint for Forfeiture of funds in several accounts linked to Tinubu in First Heritage Bank and Citibank in the US, a United States Attorney, Michael Shepard, had narrated how Tinubu opened about 10 accounts in the name of Bola Tinubu and Compass Finance and Investment Limited in late December 1989 and January 1990, wherein he deposited funds far in excess of his earnings in Mobil Oil, where he was working at the time.

Some of the bank account numbers were 263226700 (First Heritage Bank), 39483134, 39483396, 4650279566 (Citibank N.A), and 52050 – 89451951, 52050 – 89451952 and 52050 – 89451953 (Citibank International) all in the US.

Shepard noted that the funds in Tinubu’s accounts were suspected to represent proceeds of drugs or property involved in money laundering, hence the initiation of a warrant of seizure and monition was requested from the court.

In an affidavit deposed to in support of the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture by a Special Agent with US Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Kevin Moss, Tinubu was said to have contradicted himself during interrogation on his relationship with Agbele and Akande. While in one breath he admitted to receiving $100, 000 from Akande and used $80, 000 of the money to open the Heritage account, he had at another time denied having any financial relationship with Akande. He also denied having any other bank accounts in the US.

Based on the above, Moss said they had cause to believe “that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account in the name of Bola Tinubu represents proceeds of narcotics or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C ss 1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States”.
Shepard noted that although, “a less prima facie” case was established against Tinubu, the case was beyond mere suspicion, hence, a motion ex-parte application for order for seizure of the said funds was made by the US attorney on August 18, 1993, which was subsequently granted.

“It is hereby ordered that the United States Marshall shall hereby have authority to execute the warrant of seizure and monition issued ….by serving the warrant on mail on Citibank and First Heritage Bank,” the documents read regarding the judgement.

The documents, however, revealed that after protracted litigation in which Tinubu claimed that the monies legitimately belonged to him, his wife, Oluremi Tinubu, and his surrogate mother, one Alhaja Mogaji, Tinubu finally opted for a stipulated settlement with the US government.
According to the settlement order dated September 15, 1993, Hon. Judge Nordberg “ordered that the sum of $460,000 held by Bola Tinubu in the First Heritage Bank account be forfeited to the United States Government.”

Part of the agreements reached in the “Stipulation and Compromise Settlement of Claim to the Fund Held by Heritage and Citibank,” were that “funds held by Citibank shall be released to K. O. Tinubu and the actions filed against these funds in the accounts held by Citibank shall be dismissed with prejudice”.
According to the documents, “The parties further agreed that $460, 000 from the defendant’s account held by Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu shall be forfeited by the United Sates and shall be disposed of according to law. The funds remaining in the account shall be released to K. O. Tinubu.”
While Masha McClellan had signed on behalf of the plaintiff, one Patrick Coffey signed for the claimants.

In the decree of forfeiture as to funds held by First Heritage Bank, dated October 4, Judge Nordberg, having observed that “Neither a claim nor answer have been filed on behalf of the defendant funds other than the claims previously resolved by this court, in its settlement order dated September 15, 1993, accordingly 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 18 U.S.C 1956 and 1957 and therefore this funds are forfeited to pursuant to 21 U.S.C 881 (a)(6) and 18 U.S.C 981.”

Chuks Okocha and Alex Enumah in Abuja

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