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Fresh Controversy Over Tinubu Forfeiture Case After Onanuga’s Tweet – Lifestyle Nigeria

Fresh controversy over the reported forfeiture of $460,000 by Nigeria’s president elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over a drug case in the United States is brewing following the assertion by his chief spokesman, Bayo Onanuga that the case is now statute barred.

The averment by Onanuga that the issue is statute barred is the first time that the Tinubu camp would be admitting to the forfeiture as an indictment.

Onanuga made the case when replying to a submission by Ayo Obe who said that the move by Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar, two rivals to Tinubu to sack him on account of the forfeiture case cannot stand being that it is now statute barred. The incident happened in 1993.

Obe cited Section 137 (1)e) of the Constitution that said a Nigerian cannot be elected president within 10 years of a conviction for offences brought by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if within a period of less than ten years before the date of the election to the office of President he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of the contravention of the Code of Conduct,” the section said.

However, controversy is brewing as others now point out that Obe, left out the preceding section of the Constitution, Section 137 (1)(d), that disqualified anyone who had been fined for any offences in the past from becoming president. That section did not give any timeline under which a convict can be released to run for Nigeria’s presidency.

It only said: “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he is under a sentence of death imposed by any competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment or fine for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) or for any other offence, imposed on him by any court or tribunal or substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal.”

In 2014, the Supreme Court defined forfeiture as punishment for an offence under Nigerian criminal statutes.

“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,” the court ruled on January 17, 2014, in Mohammed Abacha and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“A person who has forfeited property on the basis of a crime cannot be entitled to indemnity. Forfeiture is a form of punishment. There is no indemnity in our criminal procedure,” the court further stated in a majority decision delivered by now-Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

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