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Alleged perjury: Group faults CJ’s transfer of suit against President-elect Bola Tinubu

A civil society group, the Incorporated Trustees of Advocacy for Social Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (ASRADI), has demanded explanation from Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, John Terhemba Tsoho, over the transfer of its ongoing case of perjury against now President-elect Bola Tinubu, before Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon to another judge.

The group, in a letter dated March 28 and signed by its executive director, Mr. Adeolu Oyinlola said that, “We are in a quandary as to what could have actuated this curious move”.

The letter titled: RE: Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/2197/2022, between the incorporated trustees of advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative and the Inspector General of Police, reads, “We are constrained to seek clarification from you on why the matter captioned above was transferred from Hon. Justice Mobolaji O. Olajuwon who granted us Leave to bring an Application for an Order of judicial review, on January 12, 2023.

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“The matter was initially slated for hearing on February 16, 2023 but for reasons which were not apparent to us at the time, it was not heard; while another hearing date was fixed for March 27. On getting to Court on the said March 27, counsel was verbally informed that the matter had been transferred to another Judge.

“In a similar vein, another matter of ours (SUIT No. FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2023) which was assigned to Court 13 is yet to be given a date for hearing of the Motion Exparte since early February. Lest the impression be created -wittingly or unwittingly that we are in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, we appeal to you to use your good offices to remedy these anomalies, if there is not more to all this than meets the eye”

Justice Olajuwon had in January 2023 granted ASRADI’s application seeking to compel the Inspector General (IG) of Police to investigate the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over allegations bordering on perjury.

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ASRADI had in an ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2197/2022, sought for leave of the court to bring an application for an order of judicial review, compelling the Inspector General of Police to investigate Tinubu in respect of his educational qualification claims submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 1999.

In the motion dated and filed November 25, 2022, the group had stated that the legal action was necessitated by the failure of the IG to investigate allegations of perjury brought against the then All Progressives Congress (APC’s) presidential candidate.

According to the Applicant, up till the time of coming to court, the respondent has “willfully refused to investigate and / or prosecute Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the offence of perjury where he is found culpable”.

The Applicant in its letter dated November 1, 2022 and signed by Adeolu Oyinlola, had asked the IG to “cause an investigation into this allegation of ours within two weeks of the receipt of this correspondence, and initiate prosecution if it is established that he swore to an affidavit – knowing full well that what he stated therein was and is false”.

The Applicant in the letter titled: Investigation of Bola Ahmed Tinubu for Lying on Oath told the court that its findings revealed that the APC presidential candidate “lied on oath in every material particular. As a matter of fact, St. Paul Aroloya (Lagos) has never existed”.

According to the group, documents it obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) regarding Tinibu’s form CF 001 submitted in aid of his qualification to contest the position of Governor, Lagos State in 1999, listed St. Paul Aroloya (Lagos), Children Home School, Ibadan and University of Chicago as institutions Tinubu attended.

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The Applicant, however, argued that the non-disclosure by Tinubu in the INEC Form CF 001 of the qualification he got in respect of the primary school he attended after stating he attended St. Paul Aroloya, Children Home School Ibadan, 1958 – 1964 is a gap that needed to be investigated by the Police because the said school never existed at the time he claimed he attended same or at any time for that matter.

While stating that the Respondent is under constitutional and statutory obligation / duty to investigate Tinubu for the alleged offence of perjury, the applicant submitted that it will be in the interest of justice to compel the police to investigate the presidential candidate for the alleged crime.

According to the group, due to the actions / inactions of the police over the matter, Tinubu “is walking free without answering to his past deeds and is contesting for the presidency of Nigeria with dubious educational qualification claims”, adding that the police had no justification for refusing to investigate Tinubu for the alleged crime.

Amongst the reliefs sought from the court is a declaration that by virtue of Section 215(1) (a) and 2 of the Constitution and Sections 7(1), 31 and 32 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the IG is under both constitutional and statutory obligation to investigate Tinubu for the offence of perjury contained in the INEC Form CF 001, sworn to by him on December 20, 1999, regarding his educational qualification.

The applicant subsequently prayed for an Order of Mandamus compelling the respondent to investigate the filings made by Tinubu and where he is found culpable to be referred to the Attorney General of the Federation for prosecution.

In his ruling on the ex-parte motion on January 12, 2023, Justice Olajuwon held that after reading the supporting affidavit deposed to by Adeolu Oyinlola and hearing applicant’s lawyer, Chukwunweike Okafor, “An order is hereby made granting leave of the applicant to apply for judicial review by way of mandamus compelling the respondent in this case, the Inspector General of Police to investigate the filings made by Tinubu in respect of his educational qualification contained in the INEC Form CF 001 sworn to by him on December 20, 1999.

“That the matter is adjourned to February 16, for further proceedings”.