The President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25, 2023 election, Bola Tinubu has reportedly blamed the clerk of Chicago State University of being responsible for blatant irregularities that characterised a certificate the school reprinted in his name.
According to Peoples Gazette, President Tinubu raised this concern in a court filing spotted by the platform.
President Tinubu claimed that the clerk whose name was not stated made errors as to the dates the school stated on his recently-issued certificate and when he graduated, thereby creating “the appearance of differences.”
President Tinubu’s statement was filed on August 23 by his counsel as part of his argument before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
Judge Jeffrey Gilbert had given Tinubu until August 23 to explain why his academic records at CSU should not be released to his political opponent Atiku Abubakar.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, earlier this month, requested court approval to subpoena Tinubu’s files domiciled with CSU because he believed the documents would clarify glaring inconsistencies in Tinubu’s background, including publicly available documents that suggested the CSU in the 1970s admitted a female student bearing Bola Tinubu who was born on March 29, 1954.
Atiku had sued to obtain Tinubu’s school records under a U.S. statute that allows documents available in the U.S. to be subpoenaed for use as evidence in a foreign court.
The former Vice President argued that Tinubu had presented contradictory claims in Nigeria and the CSU, in responding to a previous subpoena, had issued documents that contradicted what Tinubu had entered under oath in Nigeria.
Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Carmichael, argued that the August 2022 subpoena that was issued following a request by a Nigerian lawyer Mike Enahoro-Ebah was “illegal” because he had no valid grounds to seek the documents, especially under education privacy rights.
The lawyers, nonetheless, admitted the documents indeed emanated from the CSU, but an unnamed clerk had mistakenly typed the graduation date.
“Unfortunately, in responding to the illegal and invalid subpoena, CSU made several errors,” Mr Tinubu’s attorneys said. “CSU issued a new diploma for Bola A. Tinubu, but incorrectly wrote the date of graduation as June 27, 1979.”
The lawyers also said changes in school-authorized signatories and logos, alongside other anomalies like the fonts of the certificate, all combined to generate an appearance of wrongdoing.
“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 lawyers said.
Atiku said he filed the suit because he wanted to get the school to certify all documents relating to Tinubu, some of which had been filed by the Nigerian president’s lawyers in Nigerian court as part of the ongoing election petitions proceeding.
But Tinubu argued further that Abubakar should be requesting the documents because Tinubu’s academic records were not part of the initial litigation over the Nigerian elections.
They said the opposition leader’s argument had been focused entirely on cheating and other irregularities around the conduct of the election.
They also argued that the Nigerian court hearing the election petitions had already concluded hearing on arguments, and a judgment is now being anticipated.
The court is expected to deliver judgment on or before September 21, in line with the Nigerian electoral law that mandates the conclusion of a petition within 180 days after the election.
The presidential election was held on February 25, and Mr Tinubu was sworn in as president on May 29.