The presidential campaign councils of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party are currently engaged in a battle of titans over corruption allegations against their candidates, Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, respectively, a few weeks to the presidential election, Adedayo Akinwale writes
Just a few weeks to the February 25 presidential election, the campaign councils of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have gone to the trenches to launch attacks on each other over the alleged corrupt practices of Bola Tinubu of the APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.
The hell was let loose when a whistleblower, Mr. Michael Achimugu, recently alleged in a viral video that both the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former President Olusegun Obasanjo used Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to siphon public funds, as well as operated another Marine Float Account to unlawfully fund the PDP and enrich themselves, their family members and friends
It was based on the allegation that the APC campaign seized the opportunity to throw the first punch when it described Atiku as a “criminal” that must be prosecuted.
Making the call while reading a jointly signed press statement by Dele Alake, Bayo Onanuga, Femi Fani-Kayode and Idris Mohammed, all directors in the media department of the campaign council, the Spokesperson of the APC PCC, Festus Keyamo noted that SPVs were companies Atiku admittedly registered upon assumption of office as Vice-President (with the approval of President Olusegun Obasanjo) using “trusted allies” as shareholders and directors.
It pointed out that the purpose was to divert government contracts to these companies as “consultants” and then pay the monies into these companies and use those monies to fund the PDP and their private businesses and family activities.
The APC PCC also accused Obasanjo and Atiku of founding their private universities with proceeds from the SPVs.
It noted that from the oral account of the whistleblower, the voice notes and all other supporting documents, Atiku had committed these infractions, including offences against the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, especially in Sections 5, 10, 13 and 17 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
Keyamo stated: “We understand that the law enforcement agencies may be reluctant to act simply because of the perception of persecution of a presidential candidate that this may evoke. However, facts are sacred. The facts so far presented to the world clearly indicate that Atiku Abubakar has a case to answer. In other climes when such serious allegations arose in the middle of campaigns, the law enforcement agencies acted decisively.
“The issue of the Marine Float Account is not new to Nigerians. In the voice note, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar can be heard boasting that the issue of that account was thoroughly investigated by EFCC, yet then he was smart enough to escape.
“However, we note that in 2006, at the height of his public quarrel with Obasanjo over the sharing of money, the same PDP officially asked Atiku Abubakar to refund N500 million taken from that account.”
In the light of the revelations, the APC PCC therefore called on Atiku to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people and step down from the presidential race forthwith, whilst handing himself over to the law enforcement agencies.
It also gave the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 72 hours to arrest and prosecute Atiku for alleged corruption or it would head to court.
Responding in kind, the PDP PCC said Tinubu’s public records were fraught with alleged inaccuracies and criminalities. It stated categorically that with the drug trafficking charges against him by the United States government for which he reached a forfeiture deal, the absence of academic records, lack of accurate data about his age and lingering money laundering investigations, Tinubu was unfit to be president.
While calling for his arrest at a media briefing in Abuja, addressed by the Director, Strategic Communication, Mr. Dele Momodu; Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Paul Ibe; Spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign Council, Daniel Bwala; Special Assistant, Public Communication to Atiku Abubakar, Phrank Shaibu and Spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign Council, Charles Aniagwu, the campaign council alleged that the APC candidate’s public and private lives reeked of corruption and criminality.
It said: “We are currently at a crossroads and the wrong decision could spell doom for this great nation forever. Nigeria is battling many problems at the moment. We have banditry and terrorism ravaging many towns in the North, militants attacking oil facilities and bringing the country’s economy to its knees in the Niger Delta while secessionists are holding the South-east to ransom. It will be a huge disaster to add state-sponsored drug trafficking into the mix.
The PDP campaign said it was no longer news that Tinubu had direct ties to drug lords and was used as a conduit pipe to launder their funds.
The party alleged that court records show that Nigerian drug kingpin, Adegboyega Muiz Akande, ran an elaborate network of heroin traffickers in Chicago, Illinois, in the 1980s.
It added: “This investigation has revealed the identity of other individuals, including relatives who have worked for Akande with various duties in the distribution organisation. One of these individuals has been identified by the investigation as Bola Tinubu. Kevin Moss, a special agent with the Inland Revenue Service Court records showed that Akande took Tinubu to First Heritage Bank where he opened an account for himself and his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, in 1989, it said.
“Tinubu revealed in documents that he worked with Mobil Nigeria Limited and his salary was $2,400 and he had no other sources of income whatsoever. But records from his First Heritage Bank account showed that in 1990, Tinubu deposited $661,000 into his individual money market account and in 1991 deposited $1,216,500 into the same money market account.
“Mobil representatives told US authorities that even though Tinubu was a treasurer, he had no direct access to the company’s cash and thus could not deposit funds on behalf of the firm. Tinubu, ever the political Maradona, quickly entered into an agreement with US authorities and forfeited $460,000 in order to avoid jail before running back to Nigeria.”
The PDP campaign, however, insisted that this has not changed the fact that he was in cahoots with drug dealers and was their bagman. The opposition campaign explained that since criminal cases had no statute of limitation, the drug trafficking case against Tinubu should be reopened.
It added: “Criminal cases have no statute of limitation and can be reopened at any time especially for the sake of national interest. We hereby call on the NDLEA to immediately arrest Bola Ahmed Tinubu and prosecute him for drug trafficking.”
The Atiku campaign, therefore, raised the alarm that the country was headed in the wrong direction should such a man be elected to be at the helm of affairs.
“Dear Nigerians, we are currently at a crossroads and the wrong decision could spell doom for this great nation forever. Nigeria is battling many problems at the moment. We have banditry and terrorism ravaging many towns in the north, militants attacking oil facilities and bringing the country’s economy to its knees in the Niger Delta while secessionists are holding the South-east to ransom. It will be a huge disaster to add state-sponsored drug trafficking into the mix.“
Both Parties Head to Court
After the expiration of 72 hours given by APC campaign to the anti-graft agencies to prosecute Atiku, Keyamo approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, for an order compelling three anti-corruption bodies to arrest and prosecute the presidential candidate of PDP over allegations bordering on misappropriation of public funds.
The anti-corruption agencies which were sued alongside Atiku as 2nd to fourth defendants include; the CCB, ICPC and EFCC.
Keyamo told the court that the legal action was triggered by the refusal of the anti-graft agencies to honour his petition against the former Vice President as well as Atiku’s refusal to make himself available to the agencies for investigation of corruption allegations.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023 and filed on his behalf by one Fetus Ukpe submitted that the defendants are duty bound to investigate and prosecute anyone who has been accused of corruption in the country.
On its part, the PDP campaign has also approached the court to declare Tinubu as ineligible to contest the having “been convicted” in United States court.
The Spokesperson of the campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, while addressing a press conference in Abuja also said it would also be demanding 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 2023 Presidential election.
He said: “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.”
Against this background, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and his counterpart in the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, have called on both Atiku and Tinubu to withdraw from the race considering a lot of baggage they carry.
Obi and Kwankwaso added that with the baggage the APC and PDP were carrying, Nigerians do not need any of them to lead them.
Last modified: January 29, 2023