U.S. may designate Nigeria state sponsor of narcotics trafficking over Tinubu’s drug crimes in Chicago: Lawyer

The U.S. government in July 1993 had sought from Mr Tinubu a forfeiture of proceeds of narcotics going up to $460,000.

The administration of incoming president Bola Tinubu, who forfeited $460,000 to the United States government over drug trafficking and money laundering crimes in 1993, puts Nigeria at risk of being designated a narcotics state sponsor in accordance with the Kingpin Act 1999, Peoples Gazette has learnt.

The Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act was passed in 1999 to combat international drug trafficking and impose sanctions on “significant foreign narcotics traffickers” and “entities” found guilty of the economic crime.

The Act prohibits traffickers and their businesses once they are identified from benefiting from the American financial system 

Citing Section 1904 of The Act, Abdul Mahmud, a lawyer acquainted with the U.S. laws, said The Act only applies to foreign persons or companies but that it doesn’t recognise a nation or state as a “foreign entity.”

“Foreign entity, by the definition given by the Act, includes companies, enterprises, businesses, partnership, joint venture, etc,” Mr Mahmud explained to The Gazette.

“So technically under the Act, no direct action can be taken against a national state as Section 1907 specifically states that foreign person doesn’t include a foreign state,” he added.

However, he explained a clause that could implicate Nigeria as a sovereign state, asserting the provisions of Section 1904 of The Act gave U.S. the right to cite a sitting president (being a foreign person with immunity) for “blocking and prohibition(sic) sanctions.”

Section 1904 (a) of the Kingpin Act states that “a significant foreign narcotics trafficker publicly identified in the report required under subsection (b) or (h)(1) of section 1903 of this title and foreign persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to any and all sanctions as authorized by this chapter.”

But the inability to sanction a sitting president who enjoys immunity may cause the American government to designate the nation a narcos state, a move that would further dent Nigeria’s already tainted reputation on the global map.

“The diplomatic implications of such an action is huge, considering the image problems it creates for the nation state,” Mr Mahmud stressed.  

“Yes, possibility then that (sic) exists that a national state can be categorised as a narco state if the national state takes steps to forestall the implementation of the Act as regards its president,” the lawyer asserted.

Last year, the Northern District Court of Illinois released documents detailing Mr Tinubu’s 1993 legal battles with United States authorities over drug-related and money laundering charges.

The president-elect’s allies have tried to fend off attacks from critics and citizens who seek the truth over the haunting past of the man set to be sworn in as the nation’s leader come May 29.

The U.S. government in July 1993 had sought from Mr Tinubu a forfeiture of proceeds of narcotics going up to $460,000.

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