Despite court cases of alleged massive frauds hanging on his neck, former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu was on Wednesday officially declared the presidential candidate of the party. Tinubu polled 1,271 votes at the election which was held at Eagle Square, Abuja. Former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi trailed with 316 votes, while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo garnered 235 votes.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Governor Yahaya Bello polled 152 and 47 votes respectively. Checks by Easterner revealed that the fraud cases against Tinubu dated as far back as 1998, raising questions about how the former governor struggled to delay the axe of the law. On February 18, 2009, media obtained original copies of a judgment in the case of United States versus Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in which Tinubu was charged (along with other defendants) in a case of massive drug trafficking and money laundering. This judgment directly relates to (and further documents) the media report of September 16, 2008 – How US Federal Agents successfully Linked Tinubu to Drug Trafficking Ring in Chicago. The United States of America, by its attorney, Michael J. Shepard, United States Attorney for Northern District of Illinois, for its verified complaint of forfeiture, stated that “Beginning as early as 1998, Adegboyega Mueez Akande, with others operated an organisation which distributed white heroin, a controlled substance under Title 21 of the United States Code.
“This distribution operation was conducted on a large scale and the proceeds of the operation substantial.”
The judgment was that the court ordered: “that the funds in the amount of $460,000 in account in the name of Bola Tinubu represents proceeds of narcotics or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C ss 1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeited to the United States.”
After protracted litigation in which Bola Tinubu claimed that the monies legitimately belonged to him, his wife, Oluremi Tinubu, and his surrogate mother, one Alhaja Mogaji, Bola Tinubu finally opted for a stipulated settlement with the US government. According to the settlement order dated September 15, 1993; Hon. Judge John A. Nordberg ordered that the sum of $460,000 held by Bola Tinubu in the First Heritage Bank account be forfeited to the United States Government.
A bigger scandal was uncovered in 2018 when Alpa Beta, a consultancy owned by Bola Tinubu, was caught at the centre of a N100 billion fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering petition written by Mr. Dapo Apara, its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. According to Apara’s petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Alpha Beta “has become an avenue for official corruption of government officials, a conduit pipe for massive money-laundering scheme, tax evasion, among other vices.”
In the petition, sent on his behalf by Adetunji Adegboyega ESG, his solicitors, Apara said: “Over the years the company is being protected and shielded by some powerful politicians and people in the society which made them to always boast of being untouchable, but our client, feeling the need not to keep quiet again and strengthened by his belief in the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on fighting corruption, which has been the bane of our country, is of the firm belief that it’s time to expose and open the can of worms called Alpha Beta Consulting.”
Alpha Beta first became known when it was appointed as a consultant to the Lagos State Government, arguably its first client, under the tenure of Babatunde Fowler as the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue from 2005 to 2014. The company got the appointment when Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State. The speculation, which has yet to dissipate since then, is that Tinubu completely owns or is a major shareholder in the company. In the same vein, the state has also never denied claims that the company takes about 10 percent of the internally generated revenue of Lagos, estimated in 2016 to be about N40 billion every month. The court process was still ongoing when on October 27, 2020, hoodlums burnt the documents during the riotous #EndSARS violence in the state. The court papers stating charges brought against Tinubu, his tax consultancy firm, Alpha Beta Consulting, by Apara were burnt, according to claims by Tade Ipadeola, Apara’s lawyer.
“Everything in Igbosere High Court got burnt including the registrar’s copy of our application. In fact, the whole building was burnt to ashes. So, we will have to file again. The registry has been moved to Ikeja. “We may have to file the case afresh at the Ikeja High Court but we have not yet been instructed to do so,” he said on October 27, 2020. Apara had claimed in the documents that Tinubu, suspiciously diverted N22,360,000,000 and $4,396,063 from the firm’s account to that of Vintage Press Ltd, publisher of The Nation Newspaper. In a writ of summons marked LD/7330GCMW/2020 deposed at a Lagos High Court, Apara, who claims to own a 30 per cent stake in the company, alleged that the former governor reneged on certain agreements reached in the past about the management and control of the consulting firm.
Other fronts used by Tinubu, according to the former Alpha Beta boss, are Olumide Ogunmola and Tunde Badejo. In his statement of claim, Apara said during a review of the company’s account, he discovered that huge sums of money earned by the company over the years were not reflected in its account. He also revealed how Tinubu used the Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, as a front for the establishment of the firm. Alpha Beta Consulting was awarded a contract by the Lagos State Government when Tinubu was governor of the state after a recommendation by a committee comprising the then Attorney-General of Lagos State, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (now the Vice President of Nigeria); Mr Wale Edun, then Commissioner for Finance; and a former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Yemi Cardoso. The firm was subsequently given exclusive rights to collect taxes on behalf of the Lagos State Government and was believed to receive about 10 percent commission from the revenue it collected for the state. However, pro-transparency groups and opposition politicians had constantly alleged that Tinubu owned Alpha Beta even though his name was not on any of the company’s documents. However, both Tinubu and Alpha Beta denied the allegations.