An Opportunity For Your Excellency To Right Wrongs
Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd)
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock Villa
RE: 25TH FEBRUARY 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: A CALL FOR YOUR EXPEDIENT INTERVENTION TO ENSURE CONSTITUTIONALISM, RULE OF LAW AND DUE PROCESS PREVAILS WHILST SAFEGUARDING NIGERIA FROM NEEDLESS DESCENT INTO PARIAH STATUS AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL.
Please accept our compliments as you approach the end of second and final of your 4-year tenure as the President of the Federal Republic. A tenure that has placed your goodself as one of only two Nigerians who have had the unique opportunity of presiding over the affairs of Nigeria firstly as a Military Dictator, and thereafter a civilian President.
Your tenure has witnessed several landmark events such as the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (after almost two decades of continuous efforts), passage of the Electoral Act 2020 (after close to a decade of efforts to make our electoral laws more just and equitable), and some efforts at enshrining the autonomy of the Judiciary and Legislative arms of government; and also some controversial episodes, such as the inability of our security forces and agencies to effectively stem continuing ethnic cleansing being experienced across the country masked in the garb of Herdsmen – Indigenous Farmers/Settler clashes; increased feelings of marginalization by diverse component peoples of Nigeria and lopsidedness in the management of affairs of the country; and downturn in the economy of the country.
In this twilight days of your administration, providence has offered you a unique opportunity to ensure that your name is enshrined in the annals of the history of Nigeria, and indeed the African continent, as one who did his best to uphold the tenets, spirit and intendments of the Constitution of the Federal Republic (CFR), uphold the integrity, dignity and elevated position of Nigeria amongst the comity of nations, in an altruistic manner devoid of partisan or other parochial considerations. The purpose of this correspondence is to bring to your notice this unique offer of providence in the effort that you will seize the opening to right wrongs and be on the right side of history and posterity.
Expectations of the 2023 general elections
In the buildup to the 2023 general elections, your goodself, had severally committed your administration to organizing the freest and most credible elections to ensure an orderly transition by the 29th of May 2023. Based on the trust Nigerians had in your pronouncements and the publicly made undertakings by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) authorities to use technological advancements to ensure real-time online transmission of votes cast at polling units via the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines and real-time online collation of votes via the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portals, Nigerians in their millions, who had either previously not registered as voters or had lost faith in the electoral processes, took up the civic responsibility and registered to vote, and indeed presented themselves to vote on the election day, 25th February 2023, the date slated for presidential and national assembly elections.
In a most traumatic betrayal of a peoples trust and denigration of a country’s image, the leadership and management of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in a manner aggressively and directly in contradiction with the Nigerian Constitution and relevant electoral laws and pursuant regulations, particularly the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Regulations 2022, delivered what has variously been described as an electoral heist of unimaginable proportions bordering on repudiation of the basis and fundamental precepts of democracy.
The Nigerian electorate, domestic and foreign election observers, and the international community as a whole, took adequate notice of the charade INEC conducted under the guise of an election. The elections conducted by INEC on the 25th of February served to directly impugn Your Excellency’s commitment to free and fair polls.
The Constitution directly accords your office necessary and cogent powers to ensure that the Federal Government and all its Ministries, agencies, and parastatals, inclusive of INEC, adhere to the tenets and spirit of the CFRN. In reality, unconstitutional acts, none compliance with extant laws, and wrongs generally can only be perpetuated by entities created under our laws to the extent that the President of the Federal Republic is either not aware of such infractions, or acquiesces to such infractions. We write believing that Mr. President is not aware of these unconstitutional acts, none compliance with the laws and wrongs generally, and would want to leave office knowing he has done his very best for the Government and peoples of the Federal Republic.
At this juncture, we must admit that Mr. President’s patriotic and legitimate actions in response to the illegalities displayed by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the recently concluded Adamawa State gubernatorial supplementary elections, gave us added impetus to pen this correspondence in the hope that Mr. President will likewise see the dangers in not nipping absurdities in the bud by similarly calling on the relevant security agencies to exhaustively investigate the conduct of the INEC Chairman and some of his associates regarding their announcement of results and declaration of a winner when the processes of the presidential elections were yet uncompleted.
Issues Arising: Unconstitutional Acts, Infractions of Laws and Moral debasement
We shall hereunder proceed to highlight the constitutional aberrations, illegalities and uncouth acts that INEC indulged in, to arrive at the most unconstitutional and illegitimate outcomes it rendered as the outcome of the 2023 Presidential elections, in the believe that your goodself will direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and other agencies and instruments of the Federal Government on the proper steps to take with regards to containing the enthronement of illegitimacy and what we will choose to refer to as ‘unconstitutionalism’ in our polity.
1. Declaring a person unqualified to be a candidate as President-elect
Section 137(1): A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if -
(d) 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;
As Your Excellency may be aware, considering the fact that the issue has dominated public discourse and certainly should have elicited interest of the relevant security agencies, sequel to investigations and judicial processes conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States, the United States Government sought for and obtained forfeiture in the sum of US$460,000 in relation to drug trafficking and money laundering charges which are offences bothering on fraud and dishonesty, from the person INEC has pronounced as President-elect (and indeed the said Mr. Tinubu has never denied that he forfeited the said sum – his defense being that it was a forfeiture outside the jurisdiction of Nigeria and that the forfeiture were against his accounts, not his person).
From the provisions of the CFRN 1999 which we have highlighted above, which are each stand-alone provisions, default of which renders any person presented as a candidate by a political party ineligible to contest for the office of President of the Federal Republic, it is clear that the forfeiture of sums for charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering, renders Mr. Tinubu ineligible to be a contestant or candidate in an election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Not being a candidate at the said elections in the eye of the CFRN, the purported declaration of the said Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the President-elect sequel to the presidential elections held on 25th February 2023, is gross and an abuse of the powers delegated to the INEC Chairman under the Electoral Act, thus rendering the act of the purported declaration, illegitimate and an affront on the CFRN
If this travesty is not immediately corrected as the travesty of an INEC REC announcing results and declaring a winner, as occurred in Adamawa State, there yet will be a time when an INEC Chairman will, of his own accord, declare a person who is not a duly nominated candidate of a political party as the President-elect.
2. Declaring a candidate who did not meet constitutional prerequisites as President-elect
Sec. 134(2) A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election-
(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In his purported declaration of a President-elect on the 1st of March, 2023, sequel to the 25th of February presidential elections, INEC Chairman surreptitiously and deliberately feigned ignorance of the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 134(2)A of CFRN.
In the course of the announcement of the purported collated results from the presidential elections, the candidate of the Al Progressive Congress (APC), who was declared as President-elect by the INEC Chairman, scored 20% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja – a percentage that is clearly below the minimum threshold required of any candidate to be declared as President-elect.
It is pertinent to point out that the various candidates declared as Presidents-elect under the current constitutional dispensation (Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and your goodself) had secured more that the mandatorily required 25% of votes cast in the FCT.
By virtue of the said provisions, the person declared as President-elect did not meet explicit and clear constitutional requirement to be so declared as President-elect. In real
3. Declaring a candidate as elected when the processes prescribed by the Constitution and Law for that purpose had not been concluded
In conformity with the Electoral Act 2020, the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022, and Manual, the following are the steps that must be taken between the conclusion of voting and the announcement of election results and where possible, the declaration of a winner of the presidential polls:
Results are brought in from the various comprising units (in the case of the Presidential elections, the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory);
Issues raised concerning the elections are definitively addressed by the Returning Officer of the elections; and
Final results are announced.
In the case of the presidential elections held on the 25th of February 2023, what were purported to be results from the States and Abuja were brought in, to which Political Party Collating Center Agents (PPCCA) vigorously opposed, and raised objections to their authenticity, validity and reliability as results coming from the States. The Returning Officer for the Presidential elections (who also happens to be the Chairman of INEC), undertook to address and resolve the issues raised by the said PPCCA’s prior to the final announcement of results.
Without addressing the issues raised by the PPCCA’s, thus skipping a vital aspect of the collation and announcement of election results protocols, the RO/INEC Chairman, surreptitiously in the wee hours of Wednesday, the 1st day of March, 2023, announced what he termed as final results and declared the candidate of the ruling party as President-elect, and subsequently, within a few hours of the illegitimate declaration, proceeded to issue what he, the RO/INEC Chairman termed a ‘Certificate of Return as President-elect’
This audacious none-adherence to laid down procedures INEC had marshalled out for itself pursuant to its powers under the Electoral Act 2022, ordinarily renders whatsoever was announced illegitimate and beyond the powers of the RO/INEC Chairman.
The impunity and total disregard for laid down procedures by the RO/INEC Chairman, lays a most dangerous precedent wherein any person opportune to be the RO/INEC Chairman may delude him/herself into thinking that all it will take to become an elected public official is pronouncement as such by the electoral umpire, whether that pronouncement is in sync with the CFRN, the Electoral Act or subsidiary Guideline and Regulations for elections. This ugly and despicable act of the RO/INEC Chairman directly served as motivational precedent soon after the presidential elections of 25th February 2023, when the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commission, in total disregard of laid down procedures, announced results of the Adamawa State Supplementary elections and declared a candidate as winner.
It is interesting to note that the INEC leadership at Abuja, who felt blindsided by the audacity and impunity of its REC in Adamawa State, swiftly annulled the declaration of the Adamawa State REC, and righted the wrongs committed. The INEC Chairman and the Commission was disciplining a member of its staff who, in neglecting laid down Laws and procedures to hurriedly declare illegitimate and ultra-constitutional results, had acted exactly as the INEC Chairman had done when the said Chairman had declared the candidate of the ruling APC as the winner of the Presidential elections and President-elect.
It is intriguing to note that whilst Mr. President had swiftly, and rightly so, condemned the actions of the Adamawa State REC and ordered security agencies to investigate and bring all the culprits to justice, the President had failed to equally condemn and invite the security agencies to investigate and prosecute the rascality of the INEC Chairman who had earlier acted in similar vein.
4. Unlawful nomination for two elective offices within the same election circle.
Section 115(1)d of the Electoral Act clearly makes it a criminal offense for anyone to be nominated for two political offices within the same election circle. The Vice Presidential candidate of your political party in the last presidential elections, Kashim Shettima, is believed to have being a nominee of your political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the Senatorial elections for Bornu Central Senatorial district, as at the same time he was nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate.
If indeed this crime is established, the fact that the Vice Presidential candidate and the Presidential candidate of any party during the presidential elections have a joint ticket, with the ineligibility of one affecting the other, it translates to the fact that the ruling APC did not have any candidate during the February 25th presidential elections. The pronouncement of Mr. Tinubu and Kashim Shettima as winners of the presidential elections and their declaration as President-elect and Vice President-elect respectively, becomes a crime in itself.
We enjoin Your Excellency to deploy the immense investigatory and law enforcement mechanisms available in the country towards addressing this issue, investigate and where found culpable, prosecute all involved in the criminal act of declaring an entity who could be a non-candidate as President- and Vice President-elects.
5. Rectitude and National Integrity and Standing amongst the Comity of Nations:
(a). The so-called President-elect’s forfeitures for drug trafficking and money laundering: one of the sterling qualities which had given Mr. President some moral grounds to navigate unscathed in the murky waters of national and international politics and maintain a tag of a statesman, is the unequivocal revulsion to the vice of drug trafficking. Mr. President had in his first stint at presiding over the affairs of Nigeria, albeit exuberantly, executed three convicted drug traffickers for serving as couriers of illicit drugs.
It is thus appalling that a President, who as Military Dictator in 1985 had executed 3 convicted drug traffickers (whose crimes, by the way, did not attract a death penalty as at the time when the three convicts committed the crimes), is now presiding over a most corrupted process which via unconstitutional means and in violation of electoral laws, seeks to hand over the reins of governance of Nigeria to a man who forfeited the sum of $460,000.00 to the United States Government for involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering offences. If indeed the said Mr. Tinubu had won the presidential elections, then Mr. President would have no choice than to abide by the choice of the people. In this instance, however, there are clear indications that the Constitution, Electoral laws and Guidelines were subverted, violence deployed and other uncouth irregularities and atrocities committed to foist the said Mr. Tinubu on Nigeria and Nigerians – this is most unfortunate.
It is our belief that Mr. President might not be fully aware of the incongruity of the persona who his party, with connivance of the INEC Chairman seeks to foist on the Nigerian State as President, with the need to keep Nigeria as a respected member of the international community free from the ravages of corrupt practices and the stigma of being regarded as a narco-State. In the event that Mr. President is unwilling to……
(b). Inviting the specter of a Presidents Manuel Noriega (Panama) or Juan Hernandez (Honduras) on Nigeria
Mr. President is very much aware of the harms the vice of drug trafficking and money laundering has occasioned the Nigerian State and the fact that the twin vices are looked upon with derision by the global community. It is our contention that the prospect of Nigeria being categorized as a narco-state, and thus treated like a pariah in the comity of nations, on account of having a character with proven track record of involvement in the twin vices being illegitimately foisted as President, cannot be the legacy Mr. President will wish to bequeath on Nigeria and Nigerians.
With Mr. Tinubu’s history of involvement in international drug trafficking and money laundering, what and who is there to stop a repeat of the scenario of extra-jurisdictional arrests visited upon the former President of Panama, Mr. Manuel Noriega – who eventually died in a United States Federal Prison after being sentenced for drug trafficking related charges) and immediate past President of Honduras (Juan Hernandez (who is currently cooling his heels in a US prison on similar charges. I believe, Mr. President, that you indeed do have a modicum of love and respect for the Nigerian state and would not wish such calamity upon her.
The prospect of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) being ultimately answerable and accountable to an individual who had in time past forfeited humongous sums for involvement in the twin vices of drug trafficking and money laundering, is mindboggling and will be an indelible and destructive stain on the integrity, standing and moral fabric of the Nigerian state that will no doubt retard efforts by various past governments to pull Nigeria out of poverty and on the path of development.
6. Perjury in lying about dual citizenship in affidavit submissions to INEC:
Not content with manipulating the electoral processes for own interest, whipping up ethnocentric sentiments which served to push Lagos, the economic nerve-center of Nigeria to the edge of inter-ethnic conflagration, and involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering offences which led to his forfeiture of colossal sums to the US Government, the same Mr. Tinubu is now, in documents presented to INEC towards facilitating his candidature for the said presidential elections, revealed to have lied under oath with regards to whether he has acquired the citizenship of another country other than Nigeria.
As Mr. President may be well aware, lying under oath is a serious offence under the Laws of Nigeria, moreso when the person who is suspected to have committed such offence is being foisted on Nigeria as its next president by virtue of uncouth practices earlier enumerated.
For the sake of consistent abhorrence of unconstitutional acts and illegalities, s Mr. President had swiftly, and we must add patriotically and lawfully, acted in the illegalities occasioned by INEC in the case of the Adamawa State gubernatorial supplementary elections, Mr. President is hereby called upon to act with urgency, to direct relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate, and prosecute whosoever is found culpable in the matters of Perjury, presentation of forged certificates to INEC and other infractions of the Constitution, Electoral Act and pursuant Guidelines and Regulations guiding the presidential elections processes.
If Mr. Tinubu is allowed to use the guise of being unconstitutionally declared as President-elect to avoid responsibility and accountability for his lies under oath in public affidavits, the Office of the President of the Federal Republic would have been unfortunately turned into a place of refuge for criminals.
Are issues raised here overtaken by the actions before the presidential elections Tribunal?
The question may be asked in some quarters: ‘are the issues being raised here for Mr. President attention and action not all issues pending before the Presidential Election Tribunals’ and thus subject to the doctrine of ‘lis pendens’ (matters already before a court for adjudication), and not worthy of presidential interventions as the Executive arm of Government may be accused of interfering in the judicial processes?
The answer to the above query is an emphatic ‘No’! The fact that civil remedies are being sought in a suit does not preclude requisite authorities from inquiries, investigations, prosecutions and taking other steps into the criminal components arising from facts pending in a civil action.
The Presidential Elections Tribunal is focused on civil claims. Perjury, presentation of forged certificates and violation of electoral laws are criminal law issues which the relevant law enforcement agencies can take up whensoever they consider appropriate, irrespective of the civil matters before the elections tribunals. The urgent need for law enforcement agencies to step in timeously and investigate the myriad allegations against Mr. Tinubu is buttressed by the fact that if, for any reason, the said so-called President-elect gets inaugurated into office, our Constitution accords him immunity from investigations and prosecution.
Mr. Presidents Valedictory Messages
As Mr. Presidents exit date from office draws increasingly near, Your Excellency has taken it upon himself to reassure Nigerians that you want to leave Nigeria a better, more peaceful and prosperous place then Your Excellency met it in 2015. Your Excellency asserted at your last Sallah meeting with high profile residents of Abuja, that you are desirous to return to your hometown, Daura, in Katsina State, where you will be retiring to, which is a trackable distance to the Republic of Niger, and that if Nigerians try to visit and disturb you at the expiry of your tenure, you will simply cross the border to have some rest. At that same meeting, you rightly pleaded for forgiveness from Nigerians for whatsoever wrongs or errors you might have committed during your stay in office as President.
Regarding how Your Excellency will leave Nigeria by May 20th 2023, when your tenure expires, it is quite late in the day to begin to wish or hope, as the reality of the impact of your current administration is quite entrenched and impossible to re-wish, one way or the other, in the 35 days you have remaining in office. For instance, the reality that at the inception, Nigeria was the fasted growing economy in all Africa is not in doubt; another reality is that as your administration exits, the same Nigeria has not only fallen off the list of 10 fastest growing economies in Africa, the country has attained the status of the Poverty Capital of the World.
To err, Sir, is human, to forgive divine. The people will no doubt be willing to forgive, as you have desired for past errors and misdeeds. I believe your assertion that since your hometown is a few kilometers to Republic of Niger, that you could easily walk away from Nigeria’s problems which you might have helped to foster, was a mere joke. It is however apt to correct that impression here, by reminding your goodself, Sir, of the happenings in Sudan, where citizens of Sudan are already flowing over into neighbouring countries to take refuge. The Republic of Niger may not provide your Excellency the desired refuge, if you do not seize the present opportunity to right wrongs in Nigeria.
Presidential interventions sought:
The interventions hereby sought from Mr. President regarding the matters contained in this correspondence are germane, explicit and concise:
1. order all relevant law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the sundry issues raised in this correspondence, and where deemed appropriate, prosecute the culprits, including the erring INEC Chairman and his collaborators – as Mr. President hasd done in the case of unconstitutional, unlawful and immoral acts committed by INEC in a wrongful declaration of a winner in the Adamawa State gubernatorial supplementary elections
2. more specifically, order the NDLEA and the EFCC to investigate the forfeiture by Mr. Tinubu to the United States Government, to determine the likely consequences of such forfeitures to the Nigerian State, her peoples, integrity and standing in the comity of nations; and
3. ensure that inauguration into the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not used as a shield or ruse to avoid accountability and responsibility for crimes earlier committed.
Dear Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), Your Excellency, as you exercise the powers conferred on your office by the Constitution to do what is right for the people of Nigeria, we wish you a peaceful and quite retirement within the borders of the country you have been opportune to rule for a cumulative period of over 9 years.
Eze Eluchie, Esq.
NB: In view of the fact that this correspondence will be broaching on legal issues, we have routed this letter through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in the believe that the said Minister will accord you better perspectives and insight into the contents thereof.