• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Tinubu files motion to stop academic records release to Atiku

Can Nigeria survive Tinubu?

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday filed an emergency motion to halt Chicago State University (CSU) in the United States from releasing his academic records to the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Tinubu’s legal move is aimed at causing a delay in the implementation of the order that directed CSU to comply with Atiku’s subpoenas, with the delay sought until the upcoming Monday.

This development comes in the wake of Magistrate Jeffrey Gilbert’s recent ruling in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Magistrate Gilbert issued an order on Tuesday instructing Tinubu’s alma mater, Chicago State University, to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents to the applicant, Atiku Abubakar, within a two-day timeframe.

These documents primarily include Tinubu’s academic record of admission, acceptance at the university, dates of attendance, and details about degrees, awards, and honours conferred upon him during his time at the institution.

The legal dispute revolves around Atiku’s pursuit of allegations claiming that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the February 2023 presidential election in Nigeria.

In the wake of a judgement by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that upheld Tinubu’s mandate on September 6, 2023, Atiku, along with his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, challenged Tinubu’s electoral victory at the Supreme Court.

Read also: Chicago State University says Tinubu graduated in1979

To back up his claims, Atiku approached the US court, seeking an order compelling Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s academic records. This request originates from concerns raised about potential gaps in the president’s academic history.

Tinubu’s official credentials state that he graduated from CSU in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, specialising in Accounting and Management. However, allegations have arisen regarding discrepancies in his academic record.

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

According to filings submitted by Tinubu’s legal team, comprised of Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Carmichael, an unidentified clerk at the university mistakenly recorded incorrect dates related to his degree, thereby creating what Tinubu’s legal team described as “the appearance of differences.”

Despite Tinubu’s opposition to Atiku’s application and his claims regarding the clerical error, Magistrate Gilbert ultimately ordered Chicago State University to release all relevant academic records of the President to his political adversary, Atiku Abubakar.

“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,” the judge said.

However, taking an unexpected turn on Thursday, Christopher Carmichael, the legal representative of the ex-Lagos State governor, submitted an urgent motion in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. This motion is titled “Emergency motion to delay
dispositive ruling number 23CV5099.”

The motion read in part, “Intervenor asks this court to enter an immediate order delaying the effect of the magistrate’s order, at least until Monday, September 25, 2023, so the court may fully consider both the scope of the magistrate’s authority to issue the order without review and the issue of whether the magistrate’s order was a correct application of the law to the facts presented.’’

In his argument, Tinubu cited the basis for his motion, noting that Atiku is challenging the outcome of the February 2023 Nigerian election. Tinubu emphasised that Atiku initiated his legal action under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 on August 2, 2023, after withdrawing a similar case filed in an Illinois State Court on July 11, 2023.

He explained that the time constraints are a result of Atiku’s decision to seek information using Section 1782 six months after the election had concluded.

Tinubu’s legal team said that they were unaware of the magistrate’s intent to issue a binding compliance ruling without court intervention until the order for CSU to release his records to Atiku was issued.

The lawyer further argued that “considering the nature of applications for discovery under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, the Ninth Circuit concluded a magistrate may only report and recommend to a district judge, in CPC Patent Technologies PTY Ltd. v. Apple, Inc., the Ninth Circuit held.”

It was gathered that Tinubu submitted his emergency motion electronically to the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois using the Case Management/Electronic Case File system.