Nigerian opposition leader Atiku Abubakar has achieved a significant breakthrough in his campaign to challenge Bola Tinubu’s eligibility for the Nigerian presidency. A federal court in Chicago has ruled in favor of Abubakar, ordering Chicago State University (CSU) to provide all records related to Tinubu within two days. The court’s decision cites Abubakar’s valid reasons for seeking these records.
Judge Jeffrey Gilbert has also mandated the deposition of designated CSU officials within two days after the records are released, with the possibility of conducting it on a weekend if necessary. The court’s ruling emphasizes the importance of Abubakar’s application under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, granting the production of relevant documents and the subsequent deposition.
This development comes shortly after Abubakar appealed to the Supreme Court following the presidential election petitions tribunal’s decision to uphold Tinubu’s victory on September 6.
Abubakar originally filed the request on August 2, seeking CSU’s documents related to Tinubu and the administrators’ authentication of any submitted documents under oath. Abubakar intends to use these documents in his ongoing challenge against Tinubu, alleging that Tinubu submitted a forged document under oath, a violation of the Nigerian Constitution.
The Nigerian Constitution’s Section 137(1)(j) clearly states that a person cannot be legitimately elected president if they have presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission. Tinubu’s submitted certificate raised doubts as it appeared to be signed by an individual who arrived at CSU after Tinubu’s alleged graduation. This led to Abubakar’s legal action to compel CSU to produce relevant records and certify their authenticity.
During the proceedings, CSU’s lawyer, Michael Hayes, admitted the school’s inability to authenticate Tinubu’s certificate under oath, despite confirming Tinubu’s attendance and graduation in 1979. Tinubu’s legal team argued against Abubakar’s application, considering it an attempt to tarnish the president’s reputation and suggesting that the Nigerian Supreme Court wouldn’t accept fresh evidence.
However, Judge Gilbert’s decision aligns with the broad and liberal approach courts in the U.S. traditionally take when considering applications under Section 1782. This statute allows the release of U.S.-based documents and evidence for use in foreign proceedings, highlighting the significance of this ruling.
Source: Peoples Gazette