On November 2, 2023, some newspapers reported that Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal funded the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar- led campaign to question the academic records of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Chicago State University (CSU).
— BACKGROUND —
The report said Mr Lawal had boasted that he had single-handedly financed the legal team that went to President Tinubu’s alma mata in Chicago to dig up his academic records generated controversy until the Supreme Court made a final decision on the matter.
— CLAIM 1 —
The story quoting an anonymous source said, “As a newcomer to the field of politics, Dauda needed to prove his worth. Once someone had raised the possibility of digging deeper into President Tinubu’s school records by getting a team to travel to Chicago to investigate the President, Dauda offered to fund it to the last cent,” the report said.
“In his proud manner, he said he would foot the bill. They should let him know whatever the cost is. Most of the monies were pocketed by the third parties that facilitated the engagement of the lawyers. But he spent a lot of money.”
— VERIFICATION —
In an attempt to establish the veracity of this claim, our corespondents asked the Atiku Campaign to corroborate the allegation. Two of the campaign spokespersons reached by telephone said: “That is rubbish.” They both said they can’t “give legitimacy to that nonsense.”
Another official in the campaign said, “Doesn’t sound sensible? If Wazirin Adamawa can bankroll his bigger campaign, what is paying lawyers for the Chicago certificate case.”
The campaign official said, “Alhaji Atiku Abubakar doesn’t need anybody, let alone the Zamfara government to bankroll his court case in the United States. It simply opposition elements deploying mischief to score local political goals.”
The spokesperson of Zamfara State Governor Sulaiman Bala Idris said, “The report is another desperate despicable means of distracting the PDP-led administration in Zamfara State.”
He said the opposition behind the story is so naive to describe “a democratically elected governor, who defeated a sitting governor from the ruling party as some ‘trying to prove his worth.’ This is laughable and it best described the elements behind the fake repeat as neophytes in the political ecosystem.”
Our reporters have intensified their search in both the Zamfara State Government and the Atiku Presidential Campaign with a view to establishing any iota of truth in this allegation of Mr. Lawal’s bankrolling Mr. Atiku’s lawyers involved in the Chicago State University case.
—CLAIM 2 —
The news report has described Governor Dauda Lawal as a “former Director at First Bank who had a mysterious relationship with Nigerian corruption fugitive, Diezani Madueke…”
— VERIFICATION —
Findings by this newspaper revealed that this claim is equally untrue. Mr Lawal has no known relationship with the fugitive former oil minister as claimed. This is because on March 12, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Dr Lawal.
Also, the apex court ordered the EFCC to release the sum of N9,080,000,000.00 seized from Mr Lawal.
The unanimous judgement was read by a panel led by Justice Muhammad Lawal Garba. The learned justice dismissed the appeal filed by EFCC against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal which, among other things, ordered that:
“The decisions of the Federal High Court, Coram Judice: Hassan, J. delivered in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/13/2017 on 16th February 2017 are hereby set aside. The order of final forfeiture of the sum of N9,080,000,000.00 to the Federal Government of Nigeria is hereby set aside. It is hereby ordered that the said sum of N9,080,000,000.00 be returned to the Appellant forthwith.”
By this, it is clear that Mr Lawal has nothing to do with the case involving the former petroleum minister Diezani.
— VERDICT —
Investigations by our fact-check team have revealed that Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State had bankrolled PDP Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar’s Chicago State University’s certificate case against President Bola Tinubu is a BLATANT LIE.