Lawyers representing the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, have tackled President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima over their final submissions that the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting in Abuja should not nullify their clients election victory over a 30-year-old United States District Court judgement.
In 1993, Tinubu was ordered to forfeit 460,000 US dollars in his bank account suspected to be proceeds of narcotics deals.
Obi noted how the US judgement allegedly cited Tinubu’s US home as drop off point for heroine, urging the court to remove the president on that ground.
THE WHISTLER reports that in his petition, Obi argued that the president was at the time of the February 25 presidential election not qualified to contest the polls or any other election in Nigeria because of the United States District Court judgement that forced him to forfeit monies allegedly traced to drug trafficking.
But in their final written address at the PEPC, Tinubu’s legal team led by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN contended among other things that while the said drug forfeiture order came 30 years ago (1993), Section 137 (1) (e) of the 1999 Constitution states that a conviction has expired after 10 years.
Tinubu’s team also argued that the said judgement cannot be enforced in Nigeria because it is yet to be registered in Nigeria in line with the clear provisions of Section 3 of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Ordinance and Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act.
But in his final address dated July 20, Obi’s lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu, told the PEPC that Tinubu till date has not challenged the Order of Forfeiture made by the US Court, implying he has admitted to have forfeited monies traced to narcotics deals.
Uzoukwu added further that the US judgement noted an investigation by the country’s custom which allegedly discovered the president’s home as drop off point for heroine.
“The import of the Order was to underscore that the Proceeding in Exhibit PAS above (Forfeiture Proceedings), based among under things by the revelation/finding in the Affidavit of Kevin MoSs, a Special Agent and investigator on- financial crime, moneylaundering and narcotics trafficking, inter alia that “interviews with investigators from the US Customs Service disclosed that the address at 7504 S. Stewart Avenue is known as a drop-off point for packages from Nigeria that contain white heroin….” and that in the application to open his account at First Heritage Bank, Ilinois, Chicago,” (Tinubu) stated that his address was 7504 South Stewart,” Uzoukwu stated.
He argued that one of the provisions of the law the US court declared was violated was 18USC$ 1956, which outlaws money laundering.
Uzoukwu stated that money laundering amounts to a crime under Nigerian laws.
Uzoukwu urged the PEPC to dismiss Olanipekun’s argument that a foreign judgement has to be registered in Nigeria before it can be enforced on a citizen of the country.
Uzoukwu held that what the law requires is that “a party who intends to rely on the judgment of a Foreign Court must comply with either of two options, namely: as follows: (a) by sealing the judgment with the seal of the foreign court; or (b) by a copy certified by the legal keeper with a certificate or of a notary public or of a consul or diplomatic agent stating that the copy is duly certified by the officer.”