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U.S. Court Delays Atiku Records Case After Chicago University’s Denial of Tinubu’s INEC Certificate Knowledge

September 13, 2023

In a recent development at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the ruling on a subpoena application for Bola Tinubu’s records from Chicago State University (CSU) has been postponed. The delay came shortly after CSU denied any knowledge of a certificate submitted by the Nigerian president to the country’s electoral commission, INEC, as part of his candidacy.

During the hearing before Judge Jeffrey Gilbert in Chicago, CSU lawyer Michael Hayes made it clear that the university could neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of Mr. Tinubu’s certificate. This stance contradicted CSU’s earlier claims that they had issued a certificate to the Nigerian politician after his graduation in 1979.

Hayes stated, “Is the diploma authentic or is it a forgery? My client can’t answer yes to either of those questions,” in response to the judge’s inquiry into the school’s ability to confirm Mr. Tinubu’s certificate under oath. He further emphasized that CSU administrators “just don’t know” where or how Mr. Tinubu obtained the certificate.

The significance of this legal battle lies in the fact that submitting questionable documents to INEC is against the Nigerian Constitution and can lead to disqualification. Several discrepancies have arisen, including the date on Mr. Tinubu’s certificate, the school’s president at the time, and typographical errors on the document.

On June 17, 2022, Mr. Tinubu presented a certificate to INEC purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel. However, Ms. Daniel did not arrive at CSU until 1998, which was 19 years after Mr. Tinubu’s alleged graduation. This complicated situation prompted a Nigerian lawyer to subpoena CSU for a new certificate in Mr. Tinubu’s name, issued in June 2022.

These contradictions led Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Tinubu’s main challenger in the presidential election, to file a lawsuit compelling CSU to produce records related to Mr. Tinubu and make its top officials available for deposition.

The records and depositions are being sought for use in the Nigerian Supreme Court, where the final battle over Mr. Tinubu’s election is now headed. The Nigerian Court of Appeal upheld Mr. Tinubu’s election, but it did not have CSU’s position on the certificate’s authenticity. This new evidence could be presented in the Supreme Court if accepted under a special rule.

Mr. Abubakar has until September 20 to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision, and Judge Gilbert is taking a careful approach before ruling on the matter. The judge has requested all parties to review the submitted records and update them if necessary, with a final ruling or additional hearing date to be communicated later.

Credit: Peoples Gazette




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