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APC says Tinubu’s academic record won’t help Atiku

APC says Tinubu’s academic record won’t help Atiku

Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of the US District Court for Northern District of Illinois has ordered President Bola Tinubu’s alma mater, the Chicago State University (CSU) to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents to Atiku Abubakar within two days.

Documents sought by Atiku, through his counsel, Angela Liu, include the record of admission and acceptance at the university, dates of attendance including degrees, awards and honours attained by Tinubu at the university, among others.

The deputy national publicity secretary of Tinubu’s party, Duro Meseko, said the party was not bothered by the court order, stressing that the president had nothing to hide.

He said, “The President has always said over and again that he has nothing to hide. His records are there for all to see. Chicago University has also written severally to say that this man is from us. Nothing has changed. There is no cause for alarm. It is an expedition in futility.”

The Presidency on its part, said Tinubu’s academic record would be of no value to the PDP presidential candidate, noting that Atiku and his party were simply chasing shadows.

Forged academic records?

Atiku had approached the US court for an order compelling the CSU to release Tinubu’s academic records.

He alleged that Tinubu’s academic records were forged.

Tinubu’s credentials indicated that he graduated from CSU in 1979 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Accounting and Management, but there have been allegations bordering on discrepancies with his certificate.

In January 2022, CSU confirmed through Beverly Poindexter, who is in charge of official transcript requests, enrolment, and degree verification at the Office of the Registrar, that Tinubu attended the institution.

The CSU said, “Mr Tinubu did attend our university, however, if further information is needed, go to studentclearinghouse.org website to make a formal request.”

In an earlier letter dated August 20, 1999, and signed by then Registrar, Lois Davis, the university stated that Tinubu was its student between 1977 and 1979.

But justifying his decision to obtain the President’s records, Atiku said unless a clarification is made, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the public to understand the academic journey President Tinubu.

Taking to his verified X handle @atiku on Sunday, August 28, Atiku wrote, “I woke up this morning wondering how we got to this cul de sac. In 1999, @officialABAT (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) claimed he attended St John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos, before proceeding to Children Home School in Ibadan.

“According to him, his next port of call in his educational journey was Government College Ibadan, and Richard Daley College and Chicago State University in the United States. Curiously, in 2023, Tinubu settled with attending only Chicago State University.

“I am scratching my head. How is that possible? Methinks that all well-meaning Nigerians should be as confused as I am with Tinubu’s declaration that he had no primary and secondary education, yet he has a university degree. You may wish to ask Tinubu how he attained this feat so that we can learn from his ingenuity.”

He accompanied the post with a laughing emoji. In support of Atiku’s application at the US court, netizens last month stormed the official X (formerly Twitter) handle of the CSU, @ChicagoState, forcing the college to lock the page which was hitherto public.

The ex-vice president informed the court that the subpoena was to test the truth and veracity of Tinubu’s assertions, noting that he is currently the President of Nigeria and is facing court proceedings concerning his election and the authenticity of documents relating to his attendance at the CSU.

But the university said it did not understand why Tinubu’s academic records “could possibly have any bearing on a 2023 election challenge in a foreign country.”

However, it said once an order is granted by the court, Tinubu’s academic record would be made public.

The university asked the court to direct “only limited and targeted discovery” of the information sought by the PDP candidate.

In the suit filed before the US district court, Atiku prayed that the court should subpoena Tinubu’s files domiciled with the CSU, arguing that the files would settle the controversy surrounding the President’s academic background.

However, Tinubu, through his counsel, filed a counter-application opposing the request for the release of his academic records.

But the US court ruled that it had the jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by the former vice president.

In response to an order by the court that he should make a formal filing on why his records should not be released, Tinubu claimed a clerical error was responsible for the discrepancies on the certificate issued to him by the university.

According to filings by Tinubu’s lawyers,  Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Carmichael, an unidentified clerk of the university made the error about the date the school stated on his recently-issued certificate, thereby creating “the appearance of differences.”

“Unfortunately, in responding to the illegal and invalid subpoena, CSU made several errors. CSU issued a new diploma for Bola A. Tinubu, but incorrectly wrote the date of graduation as June 27, 1979.

“The correct date was June 22, 1979, but that scrivener’s error – along with a change in the CSU logo, the font on the diploma, and leadership at CSU who signed the diploma created the appearance of differences between an earlier issued diploma and the one issued in response to the 2022 subpoena,’’ the president’s lawyers said.

In its ruling delivered on Tuesday, the court ordered the CSU to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents to Atiku while acknowledging Tinubu’s lawyers’ argument against lifting their client’s privacy privilege.

It clarified that only “non-privileged documents” should be produced.

The judge stated, “This matter is before the court on Atiku Abubakar’s Application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782 for an Order Directing Discovery from Chicago State University for Use in a Foreign Proceeding (“Application”) [ECF No. 1]. For the reasons discussed below, the application is granted.”

 

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