The EFCC has requested Bola Tinubu’s asset disclosure documents from the Code of Conduct Office, the Peoples Gazette may report, in a politically charged investigation that could see the former Lagos governor and ruling party head arrested and prosecuted before 2023.
In November 2020, the anti-theft bureau asked the asset fraud investigation office to provide details of Tinubu’s asset documents as part of an ongoing investigation of the politician, according to a copy of the request obtained by the Gazette. The request, dated November 6, was a follow-up to previous lawsuits made regarding Mr. Tinubu’s asset filings.
In the letter, the EFCC referred to its previous letter of September 4, 2020 and the CCB’s response of October 9, 2020, requesting the office to provide “pending information requested from Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu.” It was not immediately clear whether or not the CCB has complied with the EFCC’s request for additional information since then, or the nature and scope of the information provided, if any.
The EFCC November 6 memo also included another high-profile politician and official in the Buhari administration, but Gazette lawyers advised that his identity be protected until our reporters and editors have established why he was being investigated. .
The respective spokespersons for the EFCC and CCB did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation of Mr. Tinubu led by Abdulrasheed Bawa when he was the head of the Lagos zone office. Bawa was confirmed as EFCC chairman last week despite being the subject of a stifled corruption investigation, and officials said he is now fully in charge of the Tinubu case.
A Tinubu spokesperson did not return calls or messages seeking comment, but two associates who were strategizing for the former governor told the Gazette that they had already learned of the investigation and sent messages to President Muhammadu Buhari asking for clemency.
“Asiwaju Tinubu contacted the president a few weeks ago to protest that his hands are clean from any dubious practices,” the source said anonymously so as not to damage his relationship with the Lagos heavyweight.
“He told the president that if the EFCC is to continue its investigation, then it has to do so with compassion and fear of God.”
“But what Ashiwaju really wants is for the investigation to stop because we all know that it was instigated by Abubakar Malami to harass and persecute the party leader and destabilize him before 2023,” the source said.
Another source close to Mr. Tinubu said that he recently heard the politician complain about the influence of the attorney general in the Buhari administration.
“We were together and I heard him when he said that Malami wanted to become the kingmaker in the APC,” the source said. “He also said that Malami does not have the intellectual strength to run the affairs of a ruling party and will not be allowed to kill the party.”
A senior EFCC official familiar with the Tinubu investigation said the agency was helped in part by Nigeria’s adoption of a financial system powered by modern surveillance infrastructure. Tinubu was already indicted in 2011 for asset disclosure fraud, but the matter was dismissed as prosecutors found insufficient evidence to support his claim that he operated foreign bank accounts while he was governor between 1999 and 2007.
But the EFCC has now found additional information and believes it will succeed in catching Mr. Tinubu using the same set of asset documents but with advanced layers of verification. Nigeria adopted the bank verification number and strengthened its financial intelligence departments since 2011.
“The EFCC has come a long way since 2011, when Tinubu was first prosecuted,” said an anti-corruption chief. “We are now waging a technology-driven anti-corruption war.”
The official also said that Mr. Tinubu’s alleged asset fraud is just one aspect of the multiple charges that the EFCC will bring against him.
“We have requests from a group in Abuja that we investigate the source of those bullion vans that were driven to his home in 2019,” the official said. “We are also investigating his use of various proxies to collude with governors in Lagos and divert money from the state.”
In November, the Gazette published bank documents showing how Mr. Tinubu ‘Alpha-Beta was transferring questionable funds he received from Lagos state to other companies linked to Mr. Tinubu, including broadcaster TVC and bus providers. from the Lagos metro.
But EFCC’s ability to prove its case against Tinubu’s this time could prove more challenging than officials boasted, especially since it was said to have stuffed its deals and assets into complex layers of financial maneuvering.