June 11, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Atiku’s legal team agog now that Chicago State University has released Tinubu’s academic records

CHICAGO State University (CSU) has eventually released the academic records of President Bola Tinubu, following requests by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February, 2023 election.
However, the university released only three of the four documents sought, meaning that Alhaji Atiku’s legal team still has its task cut in half.
Atiku had approached the U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois to compel the university to release Tinubu’s academic records, arguing that it would boost the PDP candidate’s suit challenging the President’s election.
Over the weekend, the court ordered CSU to release the academic records of Tinubu, after an earlier lower court order to the same effect was vigorously fought by Tinubu’s legal team.
The CSU records
Atiku says he requested the documents to back his allegation of forgery of CSU certificate against Tinubu. The allegation of forgery is one of those dismissed by presidential election court in the suit Atiku filed to challenge the election of Tinubu.
Despite the court’s ruling, Atiku continued his case at the U.S. court, hoping to get official documents to back his claim and possibly include them in his appeal at Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
The deadline to turn over the documents to the Supreme Court of Nigeria is October 5, 2023 and the matter been lingering at the U.S. courts through a scheme Atiku’s lawyers say was orchestrated to delay meeting the deadline.
However, on Monday, CSU presented to Atiku’s legal team, a cache of documents connected to Tinubu’s education at the institution and copies of certificates with redacted names issued to other persons about the same time the Nigerian president finished from the school in 1979.
It also contains Tinubu’s admission records, and a letter dated June 27, 2022 confirming that he attended the university from August 1977 to June 1979 majoring in accounting, and was awarded a bachelor of science in business administration (with honours) on June 22, 1979.
However, the university says it could not locate “a copy of the original diploma prepared for Mr. Tinubu in 1979” as requested by Atiku.
It says it “does not in the ordinary course keep copies of student diplomas, and after diligent search cannot locate a copy of the original diploma it prepared for Mr. Tinubu in 1979, hence has no documents responsive to this request.”
Atiku’s battle with Tinubu
Atiku had asked for the documents for possible use in Nigerian courts to support his claim that Tinubu forged a diploma certificate he claimed to have obtained from CSU in 1979 and submitted same to INEC, for the 2023 presidential election.
Although Atiku lost his case against Tinubu at the tribunal, he hopes to reintroduce the issue in his appeal at the Supreme Court.
For his part, Tinubu opposed the release of the documents to Atiku, arguing that “the Nigerian election proceedings and the Nigerian courts” had explicitly rejected the documents Atiku sought to obtain and tender in his case aimed at overturning the results of the February, 2023 presidential election.
His other reason for opposing release was that Atiku’s request “is unduly intrusive because it allows applicant (Atiku) to conduct a fishing expedition into intervenor’s private, confidential, and protected educational records.”
But, dismissing Tinubu’s objection on Saturday, Justice Nancy Maldonado said she was only affirming Atiku’s right to have access to the CSU documents, not confirming the merit of his allegations against the Nigerian president or his comments on the validity of the country’s presidential election.
“In reaching this conclusion, the Court emphasises that it is expressing no view on the merits of Mr. Abubakar’s underlying claims regarding President Tinubu or his graduation from CSU, or on the validity of the Nigerian election.
“Nor is the Court taking any position on what any of the documents or testimony from CSU may or may not ultimately show. The Court simply finds, on the narrow question before it, that Mr. Abubakar is entitled to the production of documents and testimony that he seeks from CSU,” the judge ruled.