Atiku insists Tinubu’s declaration as president illegal

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has insisted that the declaration of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the poll was unjust and unconstitutional.

Atiku, who is challenging Tinubu’s victory before the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, insisted that Tinubu must be unseated.

Atiku stated this in his final address to support his petition seeking nullification of Tinubu’s election.

He maintained that Tinubu, having personally admitted while his witnesses also confirmed that he was involved in a $460,000 drug-related forfeiture case in the US, had no basis to contest for Nigeria’s presidency.

Atiku dismissed the claim of Tinubu and his witness that he forfeited the $460,000 money in a civil court action.

The former Vice President argued that the definition and colour of “civil action” being given to the criminal forfeiture by Tinubu were of no moment and untenable because a United States of America Court acted on the indictment of Tinubu before imposing the forfeiture fine on him.

The final address endorsed by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, read in part, “The forfeiture of $460,000 by the 2nd respondent (Tinubu) to the United States Government (a competent authority in the instant case) is neither contested nor disputed by any of the respondents. The feeble response of the respondents is that there was no arraignment or criminal conviction.

“The verified complaint for forfeiture and the entire records of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division dated September 15, 1993, indicated that the 2nd respondent’s funds totaling $460,000, were seized as the funds which constitute proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering.

“The 2nd respondent’s (Tinubu’s) sole witness Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, admitted under cross-examination, when shown the American court judgment, that the proceedings affected the 2nd respondent, as his name was reflected in the records of the court.

“It is pertinent to observe that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu) evaded denying the forfeiture of the said sum of $460,000 to the United States Government for narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities but engaged in the semantic distinction between civil and criminal forfeiture, as well as the defence that the offence was committed over 10 years.

“It is submitted, that forfeiture whether ‘civil’ or ‘criminal’ takes its source from the commission of a crime.

“The word “forfeiture” means – “the divestiture of property without compensation. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty.”

“It is submitted with respect that in all the above definitions, the common thread that runs through all categories of forfeiture is the imputation of a crime, leading to the seizure of property or money.”

Atiku asked the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, to invoke Section 137 of the 1999 Constitution to nullify Tinubu’s victory.

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