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Did Nigeria’s former transport minister call president-elect Bola Tinubu a drug baron? No, but debunked quote still circulating

IN SHORT: Former minister and Rivers state governor Chibuike Amaechi has been critical of his party-mate, Nigeria’s president-elect Bola Tinubu. But he did not go so far as to label Tinubu a drug trafficker.

According to a quote circulating on Facebook, Nigeria’s former transport minister, Chibuike Amaechi, has said the country’s president-elect Bola Tinubu was previously a drug baron in the US.

The Facebook post also claims Amaechi said that if the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) had properly screened all the presidential candidates, Tinubu would have been disqualified for drug trafficking.

The quote, published 16 April 2023, reads: “USA is not happy with Nigeria government because USA exposed Tinubu’s case of drug trafficking to Nigeria, so that INEC could do the needful but INEC failed to act. It is a disgrace to Nigeria for president elect, Bola Tinubu to be going to court for case of drug trafficking. American president has not congratulated Tinubu because of this case of drug trafficking and rigging of election.” 

The quote also appeared on Facebook here, here, here, here and here.

Amaechi lost the APC’s 2023 presidential primary election to Tinubu. He did not participate in his party’s public campaign events ahead of the 25 February election. 

Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential election by Inec on 1 March, a result that is being challenged in court by rivals Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. 

Though Amaechi didn’t publicly support Tinubu, did he refer to the president-elect as a drug baron?  


Debunked by Rivers state party leadership in March

The quote first circulated when a blog posted it on Facebook on 23 March. It was quickly debunked by the River state chapter of the APC. 

As a former governor of Rivers state and a former minister, Amaechi is the de facto leader of the party in the state. 

A press statement by the spokesperson of the Rivers state chapter of the APC, Darlington Nwauju, said Amaechi never made the comments attributed to him. 

It reads:

“We have uncovered a hatchet job carried out by a faceless online medium crediting our leader, the former Transport Minister, Mr Amaechi, with comments questioning the role of the APC and INEC over the screening/qualification of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

We want to make abundantly clear that at no time did our leader make such demonic comments whether in private or public to query the qualifications of the President-elect or linking him to drug trafficking within or outside Nigeria.

Such claptraps are handiworks of fifth columnists who do not wish our leader well and for the avoidance of doubts, our leader has no personal issue against the president-elect.” 

The statement also referred to Amaechi’s public comments about Tinubu on 18 March, the day of the governorship elections in the state. 

Amaechi criticised Inec’s conduct of the election and claimed someone in Tinubu’s camp had nominated the chairperson of Inec for a second term. 

But there is no evidence that Amaechi has made any claims linking Tinubu to drug trafficking. The quote has been fabricated.

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