President Bola Tinubu’s emergency appeal to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago to prevent Chicago State University (CSU) from disclosing his academic records to Atiku Abubakar has been denied.
Judge Nancy L. Maldonado, in her decision on Tinubu’s urgent request in case No. 23 CV 05099, rejected President Tinubu’s objections to Magistrate Judge Gilbert’s recommended ruling and has thus endorsed the ruling in its entirety.
In a recent development, an appeal by President Tinubu against a ruling made by Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert of the United States’ District Court of Northern Illinois ordered Chicago State University to release all pertinent records concerning Tinubu to Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Judge Gilbert’s decision, which favoured Atiku in a civil case, found out that the former vice president had adequately demonstrated the necessity for obtaining these records.
Subsequently, Tinubu approached Judge Maldonado, requesting the withholding of certain details, including gender and admission records, related to the certificate holder.
This case, initially brought before the court by Atiku, aims to challenge Tinubu’s eligibility for the Nigerian presidency, despite his victory in the February 2023 election. It alleges that Tinubu submitted a fraudulent certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had declared Tinubu the election winner, with Atiku from the Peoples Democratic Party securing the second position and Peter Obi of the Labour Party finishing third.
Prior to this recent judgement, Justice Maldonado stated, “For the foregoing reasons, the Court overrules President Tinubu’s objections to Magistrate Judge Gilbert’s recommended ruling and therefore adopts the ruling in full.”
“Mr. Abubakar’s application is therefore granted. In light of the pending Supreme Court of Nigeria deadline, represented to the Court as October 5, 2023, and based on CSU’s representations that it is ready to comply with the discovery requests and produce a witness, the Court sets an expedited schedule for completion of discovery.”
Justice Maldonado has issued a directive for CSU to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to “Requests for Production Nos. 1 through 4 (as narrowed by Judge Gilbert and endorsed here) in Mr. Abubakar’s subpoena.”
The deadline for this production is set at 12:00 p.m. (noon) CDT on Monday, October 2, 2023. Additionally, the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of CSU’s corporate representative is to be completed by 5:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
“Given the October 5, 2023, filing deadline before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court will not extend or modify these deadlines,” she added.
The ruling titled Memorandum Opinion and Order also read, “Atiku Abubakar initiated this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a federal statute that allows a federal district court to order a person or entity within the district to produce documents or testimony for use in a foreign legal proceeding.
“Mr. Abubakar is a former Vice President of Nigeria and was a candidate for president in Nigeria’s February 2023 presidential election. Mr. Abubakar seeks an order under 28 USC § 1782 directing Chicago State University (CSU), which is located in this district, to produce certain documents and testimony related to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the declared winner of the February 2023 Nigerian presidential election.
“Mr. Abubakar has challenged the validity of President Tinubu’s election in Nigerian courts on a number of grounds, including a claim that President Tinubu submitted a forged diploma to the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (“INEC) stating that he graduated from CSU.
“Mr. Abubakar contends the fraudulent submission would have disqualified President Tinubu from participating in the election, and he therefore seeks records and testimony from CSU related to President Tinubu’s diploma and his graduation from CSU to support Mr. Abubakar’s challenge to the election results.”