By Barr. Kelechi Agbasiere
Bola Ahmed Tinubu opened his drug account with first Heritage Bank Country Hills, Chicago Illinois on the 29th day of December, 1989. This date coincidentally is same date the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came into force.
“In a country where the Law Enforcement Agents guard and protect Criminals, the direct message and implication is that Citizens should become Criminals so they can enjoy the same protection. The bigger your crime, the more security personnel attached to you. Correctional centres in my country are for small criminals or even innocent citizens while the big criminals are rewarded with powers and political positions. Ours is sincerely a sad and sorry story any day, anytime”.
The President of Nigeria by the virtue of section 130(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is the No.1 citizen of Nigeria and the image of the nation. This being the case, the holder or occupier of such office/position must be a person of proven integrity, rectitude, nobility and above all, a trustworthy person whom Nigerians and international community can trust and respect.
To be candid, I have heard a lot about Bola Tinubu’s involvement in drug trafficking and related matters but had taken it for a political propaganda until I did my research and confirmed same from Wikipedia. We know as a fact that Wikipedia is a proven and reliable source of information. It does not peddle or publish fake news or false information. The significant and worrisome aspect of this is that the whole world has access to this information that the flagbearer of our ruling party and possibly the “next president” of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a drug dealer. As weighty as this maybe, I thought the media/Legal team of Tinubu would challenge or controvert the information put out by Wikipedia but nobody did thereby invoking the principle of law in Patrick Offolete Vs State (2000) 7 SC.PT 1@100; Ogoejiofor Vs Ogoejiofor (2006) 1 FWLR 306 to the effect that unchallenged evidence/statement must be relied or accepted by the Court. That notwithstanding, drug trafficking and ancillary matters are criminal in nature. The standard of prove by virtue of section 135(1) of the Evidence Act requires prove beyond reasonable doubt. So, to make doubt double sure, I requested and I was availed with the certified true copies of the forfeiture proceedings in the United States Court involving Bola Tinubu. I painstaking studied the documents and was so shocked to my marrow that those heinous and heavy allegations of crimes were made against our “next president” and he neither challenged nor refuted them. The last straw that broke the carmel’s back was when his official spokesperson Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN came on channels Television and admitted thus;
1. That the documents are authentic.
2.That the Bola Tinubu that was referred to in the documents is the same person who is the APC presidential candidate and our “next president”
3.That the judgment/ruling in that case still subsist and has not been appealed against or set aside.
In view of this, i can conveniently and authoritatively make reference to the said documents but before then, the followings are some verified facts of the case;
THE VERIFIED FACTS OF THE CASE AGAINST BOLA A. TINUBU
1.Bola A.Tinubu opened a drug account with first Heritage Bank Country Hills, Chicago Illinios on the 29th day of December, 1989. Coincidentally and significantly, this was the same day the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came into force in Nigeria.
2. While Opening the said account, Tinubu went to the bank with one man known as Mueez Adegboyega Akande whom he referred as his uncle. Tinubu supplied his address as No. 7504 South Stewart, Chicago Illinois.
3. On the 4th day of January, 1990, Mueez Adegboyega Akande wired $80,000 into Tinubu’s account. 2days later, Tinubu completed a Credit Application for $8000 loan to use and purchase automobile. He also withdrew $20,000 from that account for the purposes of buying the automobile. In that Application, he gave his residential address as No. 7504 South Stewart, Chicago Illinois. Meanwhile, a review of trans Union Credit report showed that as at the 28th day of December, 1989, Tinubu was living at No. 7424 South Shore , Chicago Illinois and not 7504 South Stewart.
4. On the 9th day of January, 1990, Tinubu purchased a 1990 Nissan 240X with Vehicle Identification Number JN1H536P7LW121339 FOR $17,754.03. This money was paid in cash. Meanwhile, while filing the dealership form, he supplied his residential address to be 3515 Maple Lane, Hazel Crest, Illinois.
5. The US Customs confirmed that Tinubu’s address No.7504 South Stewart, Chicago, Illinois was being used as a drop off point for packages from Nigeria containing white heroin.
6. Records of Secretary of State showed that Tinubu owns a company called Globe-Link International. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that the address of the company is the same No. 7504 South Stewart…and Mueez Adegboyega Akande is a director in this company.
At this point, it is germane to find out who is this Mueez Adegboyega Akande.
For brevity sake, I will be referring to him as Akande. Akande has account with First Heritage Bank where Tinubu opened his. In fact, it was Akande that introduced Tinubu to the bank and Tinubu while filling his account opening form referred Akande as his uncle.Kevin Moss deposed that there was a man called Lee Andrew Edward who was the source of white heroin in Chicago Illinois. Lee Andrew was incarcerated for attempting to murder a Federal Agent who was executing search warrant in his premises. In the process of the execution of the search warrant, guns, cocaine, heroin and paraphernalia used in the distribution of drugs were found in his house. Investigation revealed that Lee Andrew has electronic pager where people call to place order for drugs. Investigation revealed that Mueez Adegboyega Akande subscribed to this pager.
There is another man that was arrested in the course of this investigation. His name is Abiodun Agbele. He was arrested on the 20th day of November, 1990 when he sold an ounce of white heroin to a law enforcement agent acting as undercover for $7000. Upon his arrest, he opted to cooperate with the law enforcement agents. The man’s name is Abiodun Agbele from Nigeria. Abiodun came into the United State in February, 1988 and again he identified Mueez Adegboyega Akande as his uncle. Abiodun stated that Mueez Adegboyega Akande introduced him to drugs and instructed him to serve as source of white heroin to Lee Andrew Edward before he left for Nigeria. He further stated that Akande controls the operation of white heroin distribution network from Nigeria in conjunction with other individuals in Nigeria and the United States.
Who are these individuals?
According to Kevin Moss he said “this investigation has disclosed the identity of other individuals including relatives who worked for Akande with various duties in the distribution Organisation. One of such individuals has been identified as BOLA TINUBU”.
Further investigation disclosed that Tinubu opened a joint account with his wife Oluremi. Tinubu also had a joint account with Akande. Akande’s wife Audrey opened a joint account with Tinubu’s wife Oluremi.It is also on record that Tinubu has another account in the name of Compass and investment Company Ltd wherein Agbele and Akande are directors.
It is pertinent to state that as at the material time, Bola Tinubu declared that he works with Mobil Oil Nigeria Ltd and his take home salary was $2,400 every month.(that is $28,800 per annum). He further stated that he has no other source of income. It’s then surprising and mind-blowing to see that only in 1990, someone who has no other means or source of income deposited $660,000 in his bank account and in 1991 deposited $1,216,500.
Finally, Kevin Moss stated that on 14th January, 1992, he called Tinubu on the phone with his Nigeria line and he admitted knowing Agbele and Akande and have associated with them both in Nigeria and in the United States.
It was based on these verified facts and more that a seizure warrant or forfeiture proceedings were instituted.
THE FORFEITURE PROCEEDING:
Many legal minds/luminaries have made their respective and respected submissions about the subject matter especially as it relates to the instant case. My position is not far from theirs but certainly different from that of Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN who claimed to be the best lawyer in Nigeria (private prosecutor) in utter and flagrant breach of Order 39 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In that interview with Channels television, he unequivocally stated that Tinubu was not a party to that suit which is false and misleading. It is not in dispute that Forfeiture could be Criminal or Civil but the most significant thing about the two is that “there was a commission of crime”. In other words, there cannot be forfeiture without a crime being committed. In Tinubu’s case, some of the crimes that were committed are;
1. Trafficking in Drugs that are prohibited (White Heroin)
2. Money Laundry
3. Address Fraud
4. False Information
The next question is, who committed these crimes; is it Bola Ahmed Tinubu or The Bank Account of Bola Ahmed Tinubu? It is a common knowledge that a thing is incapable of committing crime. Dennis A.Henigan wrote a book and titled it” Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” Invariably, people use things to commit crime. So, it was Bola Tinubu that used his personal account to receive proceeds of drugs and withdrew same for his personal use (like the car he bought). He supplied the false addresses/information used in the delivering of narcotics/white heroin in Chicago.
Assuming without conceding or concluding that my position above is wrong and it is settled that the action for forfeiture was against the Bank Account, it should then be noted that a Bank Account alone in legal parlance is not a juristic person that can sue or be sued and it is trite law that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. See Benjamin Leobard Macfoy vs United Africa Company Ltd  3 All ER 1169.
In essence, one cannot successfully severe the tie between an account and the holder of the account. From the onset, the name of Bola Ahmed Tinubu appeared on the originating processes. It will be grossly misleading for Mr. Keyamo to say that Tinubu was never a party to the forfeiture suit. Besides, after the court had made the order nisi for Tinubu to come and show cause why the money/fund in his account should not be forfeited to the United State, Tinubu briefed his Lawyer, Mogaji who filed appearance in the case and again, Tinubu was referred to as a Claimant in the suit.
Another key area that captivated me in the interview of Mr. Keyamo was the area he said that forfeiture is neither a fine nor a punishment. I am indeed pleased that he admitted that $460,000 USD was forfeited by Tinubu to the Government of the United States. My question is; if the $460,000 forfeited by Tinubu to the US Government is not a fine or punishment, is it a donation or a reward?
Forfeiture generally is the loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty. (See Black’s Law Dictionary 8th Edition). Simply, forfeiture is an involuntary or unwilling relinquishment of money or property as a punishment for crime or deprivation of right over property due to commission of crime or breach of duty. It should be borne in mind that article xvii of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights entitled Bola Tinubu to own property anywhere in the world and such shall not be arbitrarily deprived from him but in the instant case, the $460,000 that he forfeited or was deprived of was a punishment for violating a particular code/law in the United States of America and till date, Tinubu has not challenged the forfeiture ruling/judgment anywhere in the world.
For more insight, clarification and better understanding of the subject matter, I think it is necessary to reproduce the US code/Law which Tinubu violated. According to Kevin Moss in paragraph 48 of the verified Affidavit, he said;“…For the reasons set forth above, there is a probable cause to believe that the funds in the accounts held by First Heritage Bank, Citibank, NA and Citibank International in the name of Bola Tinubu and Compass Finance and Investment Company Ltd represent property involved in transactions in violation of 18 USC 1956 AND 1957 or is property traceable to such property or represents the proceeds of drug trafficking making the funds in the accounts forfeitable to the United States pursuant to 18 USC 981 AND 21 USC 881”
The provision of 18 US Code 1956 (laundering of money instrument) says;
A (1) Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conduct or attempts to conduct such financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity…shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000…”
The provision of 18 US Code 1957(Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specific unlawful activity). This law provides;Whoever, in any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (d), knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specific unlawful activity shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). Except as provided in paragraph (2), the punishment for an offense under this section is a fine under title 18 USC or imprisonment for not more than ten years or both.
The above provision sheds more light or explains better why out of over $900,000 that was in the account of Bola Tinubu as at the material time, only $460,000 was forfeited. The punishment section says that the fine will not be above $500,000.Before I conclude this page, it is germane I draw a line between when an order nisi is made for forfeiture, the owner of the property did not appear and when he appears by himself or through a lawyer. In my mind, when the owner of the property (money) subject of forfeiture proceeding does not appear, it can be called forfeiture simpliciter (Albeit, punishment) but when he appears, admits or consents to the forfeiture, it becomes a fine. This is so because, at the point Tinubu put up appearance in the matter and admitted he has committed a crime and to let go $460,000, he is simply authorising his bank to pay to the United States of America the sum of $460,000 from his account.
Furthermore, assuming my position above once again is not correct, will it be correct to say that Tinubu has committed a crime in the United States of American and can be tried in Nigeria?
CAN TINUBU STILL BE TRIED IN NIGERIA FOR THE CRIME HE COMMITTED IN THE UNITED STATES OVER 30YEARS AGO?
There are basically two legal issues posed by that question but the answers are in the affirmative. First, there is a principle of law that says “time does not run against the State”. That is, in criminal matters with few exceptions like custom offences, dud cheques, treason and treasonable felonies etc, the statute of limitation does not affect criminal prosecution.
Nothing will satisfactorily diminish the fact that Tinubu committed a crime of Drug Trafficking, money laundry, false information et al. The fact of forfeiting the sum of $460,000 to the United States of America which still subsists is a conclusive prove of commission of the alleged crimes and can still be tried and convicted in Nigeria under section 12(1)(2) or 13 and 14 of the Criminal Code Act Laws of the FRN which came into force on the 1st day of June, 1916. He can also be tried under sections 11, 14, 21 and 22 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Laws of the FRN that came in force that same day Tinubu opened the drug account (29th day of December, 1989).There is a particular section of the NDLEA Act that caught my attention even though it may not be applicable. Section 22(2) provides;
“Any Nigerian Citizen found guilty in any foreign country of an offence involving narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances and who thereby brings the name of Nigeria into disrepute shall be guilty of an offence under this subsection”.
OTHER LAWS BOLA TINUBU VIOLATED OR BREACHED.
It should be recalled that between 1992 and 1993, Bola Tinubu was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as such a public officer within the contemplation and spirit of the 1979 and 1989 Constitution of Nigeria which is in pari materia with the 1999 constitution. The 5th schedule to the constitution provides that a public officer;
1. Shall not maintain or operate a foreign account.
2. Shall not belong to any society/organisation which membership is incompatible with the function or dignity of his office
3. Shall declare all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of 18years.
Suffice it to say that Bola Ahmed Tinubu maintained many foreign accounts while still the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He belonged to Heroin Distribution Organisation in the Chicago Illinois area which is incompatible with his position as a senator. Finally, he never declared all those monies found in his foreign accounts.
I have taken out time to pen this down not necessarily to attack the personality of Bola Ahmed Tinubu but to help him and Nigerians take proper decision. Tinubu as a patriotic Nigerian who believes in Nigeria and meant well for the country, should as a matter of urgency, necessity and national interest disqualify himself from the presidential race. The evidences against him are too glaring to be ignored and the whole world is watching and waiting. Our ruling party the APC had made a grievous mistake by jettisoning personalities like Prof. Yemi Osibanjo and co and opting for Tinubu; grievously they should answer it. Another way to riggle out of this ugly situation is for the APC to prevail on the president to exercise his prerogative of mercy in favour of Bola Tinubu as enshrined under section 175 of the Constitution. With that, Nigerians and the international community will know that he has been absorbed of his sins and declared clean to run for the highest office in the land. Peradventure this is not done; Bola Ahmed Tinubu cannot become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and have the moral and legal justification to prosecute directly or indirectly any offender or criminal because he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. As bad as Nigeria is, It has never happened in her history that a person with criminal record successfully contested and became the president of Nigeria. Even under military regime, they were so mindful of this when President Obasanjo was granted pardon so he can successfully run for the highest office in the country and it worked out.
May I at this juncture use this medium to respectfully urge and pray President Mohammed Buhari to bequeath to Nigerians a free and fair election and also to set free all the freedom fighters. This will bring peace and progress in Nigeria to the betterment of all Nigerians.
Thank you and God bless us!!!!!
Kelechi Agbasiere (KSJI)