The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has ruled that President Bola Tinubu cannot be disqualified on the basis of his forfeiture of drug money in the United States.
The verdict was declared by Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the Presidential Petition Election Tribunal on the petition on Wednesday.
According to the PEPT, Tinubu was previously cleared by the Nigeria Police Force of any criminal issues in the US, which came through an inquiry the police had made to US law enforcement.
The court disclosed that Tinubu has been able to enter and exit the US, and that suggests he has no criminal case.
In his ruling, Tsammani said the judgement of the US District in Northern Illinois which ordered the forfeiture of Tinubu’s $460,000 in a drugs-related case was in civil proceedings in which Tinubu was not a party.
On the issue of non-qualification due to an alleged criminal indictment, the petitioners had contended that Tinubu had forfeited $460,000 in the US as an indictment in drug trafficking.
According to the tribunal, the evidence (Exhibit P5) tendered by the petitioners shows that it was a civil forfeiture proceedings.
Justice Tsammani held that the petitioners failed to provide credible evidence to show that Tinubu was arraigned, took a plea or was sentenced or fined in any criminal suit in the US.
“The order of forfeiture in Exhibit P5 on which the petitioners have relied does not qualify as a sentence of fine for an offence involving dishonesty or fraud within the confabulation of Section 137(d) of the 1999 constitution,” Tsammani said.
According to the tribunal, civil forfeiture is not a conviction or a criminal charge.