The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja has made a significant development in the case filed by Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the 25 February election. In a recent hearing, the court admitted crucial documents as evidence, accusing President Tinubu of drug offenses in the United States. These exhibits include court documents from the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, which purportedly awarded a $460,000 fine against Mr. Tinubu for illicit drug trafficking.
Although President Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on Monday, the court will not decide on the cases challenging his election until September. The admission of these documents as evidence signifies a critical step in the legal proceedings and adds weight to Mr. Obi’s allegations of widespread irregularities and President Tinubu’s ineligibility to contest the election.
During the hearing, Jibrin Okutepa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Mr. Obi’s lawyer, tendered the court documents, highlighting the fine imposed on President Tinubu for drug trafficking. Additionally, Mr. Okutepa presented documents supporting Mr. Obi’s claim of double nomination against the vice president, Kashim Shettima.
Following the admission of the documents as evidence, Mr. Okutepa called Lawrence Nwakaeti as the first witness for Mr. Obi. Mr. Nwakaeti, a lawyer, testified that he had voted during the presidential election on February 25 at his polling unit in Umuezeala Village Square, Ihiala, Anambra State. He asserted that President Tinubu had been fined in the US for involvement in narcotics trafficking.
Under cross-examination by Wole Olanipekun, President Tinubu’s lawyer, Mr. Nwakaeti confirmed his awareness of the fine imposed on President Tinubu and expressed his expectation that the documents he submitted to the court would also reflect this information. He further acknowledged that he had visited the US, specifically Michigan, in 2003.
Lateef Fagbemi, a SAN and the lawyer representing the All Progressives Congress (APC), questioned Mr. Nwakaeti about a “formal clearance report” issued by a legal attaché of the US embassy, which allegedly absolved President Tinubu of any wrongdoing in relation to the drug trafficking charges. Mr. Nwakaeti stated that he was unaware of any clearance report in favor of President Tinubu.
The court adjourned Mr. Obi’s petition until Wednesday, 1 June, for further hearings after Mr. Nwakaeti concluded his testimony. The petition contends that President Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election and challenges the validity of Mr. Shettima’s nomination as vice president due to his simultaneous candidacy for the Borno Central Senatorial District.
In summary, the admission of documents accusing President Bola Tinubu of drug offenses in the United States as evidence in the ongoing election petition case marks a crucial development. Peter Obi’s allegations of irregularities and President Tinubu’s ineligibility gain momentum with the inclusion of these exhibits. The court will continue to hear the petition and make a decision in September, determining the fate of President Tinubu’s victory and the subsequent impact on Nigeria’s political landscape.