It has been rough days for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, aka BAT. Old allegations of his links to narcotics sprung up and forced his spokesman to go on TV to defend him. We wrote about that in our newsletter here.
While the BAT was still trying to get some breathing space, a documentary on his shady past was released, adding more fuel to the fire. Then the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), released a strongly worded press release urging Nigerians not to vote for him.
These are tough times for the BAT and he might decide to hibernate till the storm passes.
What did the PDP say?
The PDP had a lot to say. The party accused the APC of “creating tension and inducing violence”. It said that the APC, having realized they have an ineligible candidate for 2023, is choosing violence to frustrate the conduct of the 2023 elections.
It went on to reference BAT’s forfeiture of funds over links to drug-related offenses in the United States. The PDP warned Nigerians that a vote for the APC will ultimately be voided and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to intervene.
Why is this significant?
The PDP cited section 137 (1d) of the Nigerian constitution which deals with grounds for disqualification. As pertaining to the BAT, they highlighted the following:
“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.”
The PDP is saying that the BAT’s forfeiture in the US constitutes a fine imposed on him by a court. In this case, the Northern District of Illinois and as such, is disqualified.
How could this play out?
There has already been a fake report attributed to INEC saying it would look into it. While INEC has come out to debunk it, there’s no denying that it is under immense pressure to do something as the umpire.
On the other hand, BAT’s camp says there’s no case and that the PDP’s statement is just that — a press statement.
It is unlikely that INEC disqualifies the BAT given his high-ranking status in the APC. So just like the last election, the PDP might take up the matter in court if the BAT wins.
Whether things will escalate to that is a question that can only be answered by February 2023.
So sit tight, it’s a long hard ride ahead.