Home Exclusive U.S. Court Sets New Date on Motion to Release Tinubu’s Records with FBI, CIA, Others
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U.S. Court Sets New Date on Motion to Release Tinubu’s Records with FBI, CIA, Others

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U.S. court fixes new date on motion to release Tinubu’s records with FBI, CIA, others

The U.S. District Of Columbia District Court in Washington D.C. has announced a new date for a motion to release or withhold records of Mr Bola Tinubu’s involvement in drug trafficking with one Abiodun Agbele from a 1993 civil lawsuit, where he forfeited $460,000 to the U.S. government.

This was disclosed on Tuesday in a ‘Joint Status Report‘ which includes the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The redacted files initiated under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2022 by the Founder of PlainSite, Aaron Greenspan (Plaintiff), in conjunction with West Africa Weekly Editor-in-Chief David Hundeyin, were for the FBI to turn over Tinubu’s case files particularly the part that documented his role in Narcotics trafficking.

However, in September 2023, a few months after Nigeria’s general election brought Tinubu to office, the FBI granted Mr Greenspan’s request to release Tinubu’s files, which were then released in batches but heavily redacted.

Tinubu had his defence lawyers resist the move as he pleaded with the court that he would be “adversely affected” should the files become public knowledge.

Judge Beryl Howell of the District of Columbia allowed Tinubu to oppose the release of the files in November 2023, saying he had a right to protect his interests, given his claim that he would be “adversely affected.”

In her response to the Joint Status Report delivered on Tuesday, Judge Howell said,

Upon consideration of the parties’ joint status report, directing the parties to submit another joint status report by September 3, 2024, advising the court whether any disputes remain between the parties, and if so, proposing a schedule to govern further proceedings.”

Plaintiff and Defendants Arguments (CIA, IRS, DEA, FBI)

The Plaintiff, (Mr Greenspan) had stated in his filing that the schedule of document disclosures under the September 2023 JSR was not fully complied with by the FBI, State Department, DEA and IRS. Consequently, he filed an ‘Amended Compliant‘ against the Defendants (see highlighted screenshot below) on March 24, 2024.

In their response filed on April 8, 2024, the defendants admitted that not all available documents had been released, but argued that any other documents relevant to the 1993 investigation that exposed Bola Tinubu’s involvement in a Chicago drug trafficking ring were not subject to disclosure under the terms of the FOIA request.

On October 27, 2023, the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), responded to Greenspan, informing him that under ‘national security’ exemptions, the search for records in the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of Illinois and the Northern District of Indiana had revealed no responsive records .

However, with Mr Greenspan’s persistence, on April 1, 2024, the State stated it had identified “potentially responsive records and agreed to issue the first interim responses at a rate of 300 pages per month or 450 pages weekly until production is complete.

Nonetheless, some of the documents were withheld under the basis of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ exemptions 1, 5 and 6 of the FOIA.

Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI

The FBI, in its defense, stated that it had provided Greenspan with every file related to Mueez Adegboyega and Lee Edwards, who was involved in the drug trafficking ring in Chicago.

However, citing exemptions 6 and 7 of the FOIA, the FBI noted it would not confirm nor deny the existence of responsive records involving President Tinubu, as sought by the plaintiff in requests numbered 1588244-000 and 1593615-000.

Internal Revenue Service – IRS

In the report, the IRS noted that it had finalised its search for records in response to the plaintiff’s FOIA request but found no records.

The IRS further argued that on October 5, 2023, it provided the plaintiff with an unsigned declaration describing in detail the methodology it used to conduct its search for records.

If Plaintiff wants to narrow down the issues, the IRS is prepared to resolve them or to seek summary judgment at this juncture,” says the IRS.

Central Intelligence Agency – CIA

Citing October 25, 2023, the CIA noted it had informed the plaintiff that, Pursuant to Exemptions 1 and 3, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of responsive records.

CIA believes a briefing schedule is premature at this time in light of the ongoing productions,” says the CIA.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency – DEA

The DEA noted that Pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7C, the DEA will not confirm or deny the existence of responsive records pertaining to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu or Abiodun Agbele.

Also, “DEA did not locate responsive records at its field offices but completed its search and retrieved 235 pages in total pertaining to Lee Andrew Edwards and 41 pages in total pertaining to Mueez Akande from the Federal Records Center.”

However, the DEA noted that it had processed and sent all of its responsive material to another agency on consultation and is awaiting a response.

Upon the consultation’s return, DEA anticipates being able to begin its production within 30 days. DEA believes a briefing schedule is premature at this time,” said DEA.

EOUSA

Jared M. Littman, who is Assistant United States Attorney to the suit, denied any violation of his ethical duties contrary to the plaintiff’s position, which maintained that such a case, in light of well-established law that the FOIA mandates that all such litigation be speedily pursued and resolved.

This is after Attorney Littman proposed that they file another joint status report on or before September 3, 2024, to update the Court on the status of the responses and provide a proposal for further proceedings if necessary.

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