The court drama over President Bola Tinubu’s ascendancy to the throne of Nigeria began in earnest in Abuja with the tendering and acceptance of records of a United States court showing he forfeited $460,000 in a drug-related case in that country.
Tinubu and All Progressives Congress (APC) lawyers reserved their reasons for opposing the document for their final briefs.
They however grilled the witness, also a lawyer, who identified the document.
Recall that Mr Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, alleged that the presidential election held on February 25, was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
His first witness on Tuesday at the Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC), Abuja, Mr. Lawrence Nwakaeti, told the court that he is from Ihiala in Anambra state, and proceeded to identify a document relating to a court proceeding in the United States.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, did not oppose the admissibility of the document; but not so for Tinubu and APC’s.
The five-member panel of the court admitted the document in evidence and marked it as Exhibit PA- 5.
INEC’s lawyer sought to know if the witness was a registered voter that participated in the presidential election held on February 25.
“I have my Permanent Voters Card and I voted at my polling unit located in front of my house at Umuezella Village Square.
“I did not play any other role except exercising my civic duty”.
Tinubu’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, wanted to know if he has ever visited the USA.
“Yes my lords, I have been there at least once. That was in 2003. I was in Michigan”.
Olanipekun, SAN, asked further: “My learned friend, you stated emphatically in your statement that the 2nd respondent was fined the sum of $460,000.00. Do you still stand by that deposition?”
Witness: “Yes my lord, I stand by it.”
Olanipekun: “Will you then be surprised that from the document which you tendered, there is no single line or even a word, relating to the issue of fine?”, Olanipekun, SAN, asked.
Witness: “My lords, I will be surprised because he was fined, and the document speaks for itself”.
Olanipekun: “Are you aware if the said indicting document was registered in Nigeria or if any certificate was attached to it from any consular”.
Witness: “No, it was not registered. But the documents were duly certified… my lords, there is a certificate from the person that issued it. But there is no certificate from the consular”.
Prodded further for a certificate from any American police officer where the offence was allegedly committed.
Witness: “My lords, there is no certificate as the police played no role in the indictment.”
APC lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in his questioning asked the witness if he was aware of a letter dated February 4, 2003, which the Legal Attache to US Embassy, wrote to clear Tinubu of any complicity in the drug-related case.
Witness: “I am not aware of such a clearance letter”.