U.S. Clears Governor Tinubu Of Criminal Deals (Read Details)

 THE United States of America (USA) has cleared Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State of involvement in any criminal activity in that country or its territory.

The US Consulate in Lagos in a February 4, 2003 letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun said there was nothing in the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicating that Gov. Tinubu had, at any time in the past, been arrested or wanted for crime in the US. The letter signed by the Legal Attache in the Consulate, Michael H. Bonner reads:

"Our sincerest greetings to you and all of the law enforcement personnel in the Nigeria Police Force, whose continued assistance is very much appreciated. In relation to your letter, dated February 3, 2003, reference number SR. 3000/IGPSEC/ABJ/VOL. 24/287, regarding Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a records check of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) was conducted.

"The results of the checks were negative for any criminal arrest records, wants, or warrants for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (DOB 29 March 1952). For information of your department, NCIC is a very centralised information centre that maintains the records of every criminal arrest and conviction within the United States and its territories."

Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr. Abiodun Ogunleye, had on January 30, 2003, written to the Inspector-General of Police, asking him to make enquiries at the US Embassy in connection with allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering levelled at the governor by a gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the party, Sir Tunde Olowu, with a view to confirming if he (Tinubu) indeed had any criminal record.

The AD letter read: "We are in the process of issuing clearance to the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to allow him contest in the forthcoming state gubernatorial elections.

"Allegations of criminal activities in the United States of America have, however, been levelled at Governor Tinubu, namely: drug trafficking and money laundering. The screening committee of the state Alliance for Democracy must sieve through the heaps of petitions and allegations to ensure that the rule of law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is upheld, free of fear or favour. Consequently, as the senior law enforcement officer of the state, we seek your kind assistance in enquiring from the Embassy of the United States of America in Lagos, a confirmation of any criminal records or criminal conviction to date by Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Due to the time constraints imposed by the impending elections, may we further crave your indulgence to deal with this matter expeditiously?"

The Principal Staff Officer of the IG, Solomon Arase Ag/ACP, wrote on behalf of his boss to AD leadership in Lagos State, saying: "I am directed to refer to your letter, dated January 30, 2003, on the subject matter - Re: Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu Criminal Record and apprise you with the inquiry conducted.

"In the course of investigation, the Police had cause to resort to the Consul-General of the Embassy of the United States of America, to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of an alleged criminal record against Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The results of the checks were negative for any criminal arrest records, wants, or warrants for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The report of the search is herewith attached. You may wish to be guided by the result of the record checks of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Centre (NCIC). Please accept the assurances of the Inspector General of Police consideration."

The petitioner, Sir Olowu, had in his petition to the IG alleged that Gov. Tinubu had seven foreign accounts to which he remitted money made from dealings in white heroin, adding that the governor had for this reason been investigated in the United States.

"In the early 1990s, Governor Bola Tinubu maintained some bank accounts in the United States of America into which his personal funds and proceeds of businesses carried on by him and on behalf of some associates and family members were kept. Much of the funds in these accounts - A/c No. 39483134 Citibank, A/c 39483396 Citibank, A/c No. 4650279566 Citibank, A/c No. 00400220 Citibank, A/c 39936383 Citibank, A/c No. 39936383 Citibank and A/c No. 263226700 First Heritage Bank, totalling $1.4 million were actually being used in money market operations, mainly securities trading. Sometime in 1993, Governor Tinubu, then a senator, gave instructions in respect of one of the accounts, but was told that a freezing order had been made against all his accounts in the banks.

"Further inquiry revealed that the freezing order was made in response to the question of an Internal Revenue Service agent, Kevin Moss, who had filed an affidavit in a magistrate court, stating that he had probable cause to believe that the funds were involved in financial transactions in violation of US laws and were liable to forfeiture to the US government.

"Kevin Moss' suspicion was based on investigations into suspected money laundering and narcotics trafficking of two Nigerians, Mueez Akande and Abiodun Agbele. Both men lived in the US and during this period (1990-93), Nigerians were under serious scrutiny in the US for drug trafficking offences and accounts of Nigerians with substantial sums of money in the US were being closely checked," Sir Olowu had alleged in his petition to the IG as well as in the last edition of the Tell Magazine.

Continuing, he alleged that the governor lost $460,000 to the US government being money spent by its agencies to conduct their investigation before trial and conviction, but Tinubu said he was never persecuted, neither was he convicted by any American court. The AD had in defence of the governor, explained that he was never convicted, stressing that the $460,000 did not amount to any fine on conviction. Anyone with even a minimum understanding of how American justice system works will easily agree that if there was evidence of culpability in drug trafficking against Tinubu, he would certainly have been prosecuted under US Law, especially since he went to the US several times and even spoke personally with the investigators on various occasions. In any event, he contested the interim seizure of the funds and recovered funds in all six accounts and even part of the particular account on which a seizure order was eventually made," it contended.

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