Although US authorities linked 10 accounts to All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu in the early 1990s, $460,000 was deducted from one of the accounts as tax on investments held in US banks.
Festus Keyamo, the Chief Spokesperson for the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, made this statement on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday.
He was commenting on the controversy surrounding a document recently released by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said to have investigated Tinubu’s alleged involvement in narcotics and money laundering about 30 years ago.
The matter, which ended in a settlement, led to Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460,000 in one of the accounts linked to the former governor of Lagos State.
Keyamo said Tinubu took responsibility for all the 10 accounts because they were also traced to his mother and “relatives”.
He also said Tinubu was roped in the drug trafficking case of two Nigerians who once stayed in separate flats in the same building where the ex-governor stayed at a time in the US.
“He, Asiwaju, went to open an account, the address by which he opened the account was already used by these people…investigated for narcotics,” he said.
Keyamo further stated that Tinubu was an employee of Mobil Oil and not a treasurer of a drug cartel.
He explained that Tinubu deposited some funds in bank accounts in the US as investments and got returns on those investments.
The spokesman said the banks were supposed to deduct taxes from the investments but they did not and this was not a “deliberate act” on the part of Tinubu.
“The deposits he made there (in banks) are what bankers called investments; he kept the money there and he was getting interests. They (US government) said he had not paid tax on those interests. That is all and guess what? The banks are supposed to deduct the tax from source.
“Out of the 10 accounts, it was only one account – the one in Heritage Bank – that they took $460,000 as tax on interest that he benefited on the investment he made in those accounts.
“In fact, all the money in Heritage Bank was not taken; they took only $460,000 as tax,” said Keyamo, who is also the Minister of State, Labour and Employment.
Keyamo insisted that there was no criminal indictment or conviction against Tinubu, alleging that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was behind the reincarnation of the controversial court document.
“His (Tinubu’s) detractors kept bringing up these issues over and over when his political profile is rising, when he wants to run for office or any political turn in his life, they will bring up these issues,” Keyamo said.
“The date on the papers flying up and down, the date of certification is 2022, so they are using this to confuse people that these are fresh papers. If documents are 40 years old or 100 years old, once you go to court, and apply for certified true copies of those documents, they will give you those documents but they will stamp the day they are giving you those documents.
“This is what our detractors, the PDP, perhaps that is what they went to the US for when they pretended that they went for high-level engagement. This is part of the high-level engagement they went for.”
Tinubu, 70, is in the 2023 contest for Aso Rock’s top job alongside top contenders like PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party in the contest many analysts have described as a three-horse race.