The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign council announced that it has asked a court of competent jurisdiction in the country to disqualify Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), from the 2023 general elections. There are currently 32 days until the elections.
The forfeiture of Tinubu’s funds to the US government over allegations of drug trafficking, according to the PDP presidential campaign spokesperson Kola Ologbondiyan, was evidence that the former governor of Lagos State committed violations that should disqualify him from running for office in Nigeria.
According to SaharaReporters, court documents from the US connected Tinubu to a case involving cocaine trafficking, leading to his eventual forfeiture of $460,000 to the US authorities.
The documents on a case dating back to 1993 which made the rounds on the internet alleged that funds traced to the Tinubu were linked to proceeds of narcotics trafficking and further showed that the court ruled that the sum of $460,000 in one of the accounts be forfeited to the US government, which Tinubu reportedly did.
However, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment who doubles as the spokesman of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo, said that the case didn’t prove that Tinubu was linked to illicit drug dealings.
The minister insisted that the funds forfeited to the US were tax deductions.
But Ologbondiyan said the PDP campaign has also asked the court to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove Tinubu’s name from all materials and documents related to the 2023 presidential election.
He said that “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.
“Consequently, our campaign has proceeded to the court demanding the court to declare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, having been convicted, as ineligible to contest the presidential election by virtue of section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“Compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately delist Asiwaju Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the APC or any other political party for that matter and expunge his name from all materials and documents related to the 2023 presidential election.
“Our campaign is filing for accelerated hearing in this case in the interest of the nation as our laws do not permit a convict, let alone an individual convicted on account of the international crime of trafficking in narcotics, to stand election at any level. Nigeria cannot afford the embarrassment of having a convict hold office at any level against our laws.
“The Atiku/Okowa campaign counsels all those wasting their funds, time, and energy on the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to put their resources to better use as his gaffe-infested, showboating Presidential ambition has practically come to the end of the road.”
However, speaking on Channels TV Sunrise Daily programme on Tuesday morning, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said that it is already too late for courts to disqualify any candidate in the forthcoming elections.
According to Falana, the constitutional provision is that any pre-election suit must be filed 14 days after the primary election, and secondly, a member or members of a different political party has no constitutional power to file a suit for disqualification of a candidate of another political party.