In a surprising turn of events, images of a Guinean diplomatic passport bearing the name “Bola Ahmed Tinubu” surfaced on social media, sparking a flurry of online activity and raising questions about the President-elect’s honesty during the nation’s electoral process.
Independent journalist David Hundeyin shared the images on his Twitter account just minutes before midnight on a Saturday night, revealing that the passport was issued in October 2015 and was set to expire in October 2020.
What makes this revelation particularly intriguing is the fact that Mr. Tinubu had publicly claimed credit for helping Guinea’s President Alpha Conde secure re-election in October 2015, while he himself was allegedly in possession of a Guinean diplomatic passport. It is worth noting that Mr. Conde was later ousted in a military coup in 2021.
Since then, Mr. Tinubu’s whereabouts have remained unclear, as he reportedly traveled to Europe secretly around March 20. However, despite his absence, he was nominated by Nigeria’s ruling party APC at its convention on June 8, 2022, and eventually declared the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Tinubu’s emergence as the president-elect has been challenged by his two main competitors, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. The legal battle has dragged on for over 240 days and is expected to reach the Supreme Court. However, what has been even more surprising is the relative silence from Mr. Tinubu’s usual surrogates.
Dele Alake, Festus Keyamo, and Bayo Onanuga, who are known for their quick and strong-worded defense of Mr. Tinubu, have been notably quiet, avoiding any comments on the Guinean diplomatic passport issue. Efforts to obtain comments from Messrs Keyamo and Onanuga have fallen through, while Mr. Alake has stated that he has no comments on his principal’s dual citizenship and the potential perjury charges that may arise from denying a foreign passport under oath.
Even Mr. Tinubu’s social media aides, such as Segun Dada and Jubril Gawat, known for their defensive rebuttals, have been unusually silent on this matter, adding to the mystery and speculation surrounding the Guinean diplomatic passport revelation.
The revelation of Mr. Tinubu’s alleged dual citizenship has caused a storm on social media, with the issue likely to dominate public chatter amid the ongoing electoral petition trial. According to Section 137 (1)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, a person shall not be qualified to be president if “he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria.”
However, it should be noted that courts have previously interpreted this section of the Constitution as inapplicable to Nigerian-born citizens or those born to Nigerian parents. For instance, Bukola Saraki served as a two-term governor in Kwara state despite holding British citizenship and later served as Senate President.
Nevertheless, Mr. Tinubu may still face potential perjury charges, as he had ticked “NO” in response to the question “Have you voluntarily acquired citizenship of any other country” posed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his form EC-9, which is the application for the presidency. He also signed the form, swearing that the information provided was correct and true.