02.05.2023 Featured Forged Certificate, Bullion Van… Tinubu’s Many Controversies Since 1999

Published 2nd May, 2023

By Tola Owoyele

In the early hours of March 1, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner of the 2023 presidential election.

While announcing the final result, Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 6,984,520 votes.

During the same announcement, Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party (LP), emerged third with a total of 6,101,533 votes while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.

READ ALSO: OPINION: If Tinubu’s Win Is Annulled, Who Will Cry?

Since becoming governor in 1999, Tinubu has been the subject of many controversies. Questions have, on numerous occasions, been raised over his real identity, source of wealth and educational background.

Whenever these questions were raised, however, Tinubu and his team have always managed to issue responses, whether convincing or not, to them.

Below are five of the many controversies that have surrounded Tinubu since he became governor in 1999.


During Tinubu’s first term as Lagos State governor in 1999, he was accused of not attending Government College, Ibadan, Oyo State.

This contestation arose after he had filled the school as one of his alma maters on INEC’s form 001 that was required of every candidate contesting for the governorship office.

Tinubu was also said to have stated in an affidavit attached to the form that he lost his university degree certificate while he was in exile between 1994 and 1998.

As a result of this allegation, the Lagos State House of Assembly set up a panel, with a possible impeachment looming over Tinubu if found guilty. In the end, and to the surprise of many, the state legislative arm later dismissed all the allegations after “it said it had concluded its investigations”.

READ ALSO: Data: Tinubu Got Fewer Votes Than Any President-Elect in Nigeria’s 4th Republic


In 2007, Abdulrafiu Babatunde Tinubu, a former head of the civil service of Lagos State, authored a book titled Onijumu Wura: The Tinubu Dynasty of Kakawa, Lagos (The Tree).

While talking about the efforts he made in coming up with the book, Abdulrafiu described it as a product of many years of painstaking research. He included the names of all members of the Tinubu dynasty from the 19th century to date and stated that anyone whose name was not listed in the book was not an authentic member of the Tinubu family. Conspicuously missing from the list of names, however, was Bola Tinubu.

This later led to a claim that Tinubu’s real name is Yekini Amoda Ogunlere. It was also claimed that he is from Iragbiji, a town in Osun State.

READ ALSO: FULL TEXT: ‘Lapses Immaterial to Final Outcome,’ Tinubu Says in Acceptance Speech

Efforts to launch Abdulrafiu’s book with fanfare were scuttled, with Tinubu’s media team blaming the opposition for the author’s claims.

Till date, copies of the book remain scarce as they were never found in public libraries or bookshops till Abdulrafiu died in September 2019.

While addressing the issue in December, 2022, Tinubu maintained “he is a proper member of the Tinubu family”.

“I’m not claiming another father, I am Tinubu and Tinubu proper. If they want DNA, they could as well request it from us,” he said.


In 2007, Tinubu was charged with allegedly operating 10 foreign accounts while in office as Lagos State governor.

When Tinubu made a second appearance before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) tribunal in 2011, the three-person panel set up to look into the allegation dismissed the case, holding that there was no significant basis to proceed against Tinubu as the charges were “defective and shoddy”.


In 2020, Dapo Apara, a former Managing Director of Alpha Beta, a tax consulting company believed to be co-owned by Tinubu, accused the former Lagos State governor of fraud and tax evasion.

In a writ of summons, Apara accused Alpha Beta of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, and other corrupt practices.

He also revealed how Tinubu used Gboyega Oyetola, former Osun State governor, as a “front” for the establishment of the firm.

According to Apara, Alpha Beta handles the computation, tracking, and reconciliation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Lagos State in return for a commission.

Apara also wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, accusing Alpha Beta Consulting firm of tax evasion and fraud to the tune of over N100 billion.

READ ALSO: Can a Candidate Be Declared President-Elect Without Getting 25% of FCT Votes?

Apara had also alleged that Tinubu ordered the transfer of over N20 billion from Alpha Beta’s account to some privately-owned business accounts.

In January, 2022, Tinubu’s legal team informed a Lagos high court that it had initiated a possible out-of-court settlement discussion with Apara’s legal team.


In July 2022, PlainSite, US-based outfit that posts court documents online, uploaded dockets of Tinubu’s money laundry forfeiture case files on its site.


During the period, PlainSite uploaded documents that showed that the US government had filed a forfeiture lawsuit in Chicago against bank accounts opened in Tinubu’s name, while he was a serving senator in Nigeria in 1993.

The US also held that “there was a probable cause” that the accounts had served as deposit accounts for proceeds realised from heroin dealings.

The court documents revealed that the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) secured warrants in January 1992 to seize almost $2 million from the accounts.

Tinubu was said to have eventually settled out of court in September 1993, resolving to give up $460,000 to the US, in exchange for the release of the rest of the money. He was never indicted.


Prior to the general election that was held in February 2019, pictures of two bullion vans, driving into Tinubu’s residence in Ikoyi, Lagos, went viral on all social media platforms.

After casting his vote on the election day held on February 23, 2019, Tinubu was asked about the vans.

“Bullion vans? Are those ballot paper?” he asked rhetorically.

“Excuse me, is it my money or government money? I don’t work for government, I am not in [any] agency of government. Let anybody come out to say I have taken any contract from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last five years.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINER: What to Expect If Presidential Election Winner Doesn’t Get 25% of Votes in 24 States

“They should prove it. I am on my own, and I am committed to my party. So, even if I have money to spend in my premises, what is your headache?

“Excuse me, if I don’t represent any agency of government and I have money to spend, if I have money, if I like, I give it to the people free of charge. As long as not to buy votes.

“So, who are those watching my house and looking at Bullion vans? They must be mischief makers, they report falsehood, their lies are numerous, and its because they are jobless.”


In October 2022, questions over Tinubu’s health status were raised when he suddenly postponed the inauguration of his Presidential Campaign Council (PCC).

He was also subsequently absent when the 18 political parties vying for elective positions in the general election, signed an agreement for peaceful conduct before, during, and after the polls, in a peace accord forum put together by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in December 2022.

On other occasions, Tinubu was seen in public, being assisted for balance by people standing close to him. His consistently shaky hands also gave rise to suggestions in some quarters that he might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

READ ALSO: TABLE: Presidential Election Results in Percentages

Despite the speculations over his health status, however, Tinubu did not disclose any information about his health condition.

He would later post a video on his official Twitter handle, showing when he was working out on a stationary exercise bike.

“Many have said I have died; others claim I have withdrawn from the presidential campaign. Well… Nope. This is the reality: I am strong, I am healthy, and I am READY to serve Nigerians from Day One,” he wrote in the post.

After the elections, Tinubu travelled to France for a four-week vacation on March 21. The move further fuelled speculations on his health status as many believed he still is not fit enough for the task ahead.

He would eventually return to Nigeria on April 24.

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Published 2nd May, 2023

By Tola Owoyele


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