US, (iexclusivenews) – President Bola Tinubu has finally consented to let a US judge send his university certificate to his political rival Atiku Abubakar, who is challenging his eligibility to be Nigeria’s president.
However, the president begged the judge to prevent any other information, especially his gender and admission records, from being revealed to the public.
Mr Tinubu made this request on Monday morning as part of the ongoing legal battle at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
The case was filed by Mr Abubakar, who has been pursuing a judicial quest to prove that Mr Tinubu was not qualified to run for president despite his victory in the February 2023 election.
A narrow escape from full disclosure
Mr Tinubu’s admission that his certificate could be released came after he barely avoided a full disclosure on September 21 by claiming that his life would be severely endangered if his records were exposed.
He obtained a stay of a magistrate judge’s order on September 19 that would have compelled Chicago State University (CSU) to confirm the authenticity of his certificate and other documents.
“There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers said in their full briefing to the court seeking a review of Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s order by Judge Nancy Maldonado, a district judge.
The identity of the person who enrolled in CSU in the 1970s has been a controversial issue after college transcripts showed that the school admitted a female Bola Tinubu from Southwest College Chicago in 1977.
Mr Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Victor Henderson and Christopher Carmichael, argued that the documents Mr Abubakar sought were irrelevant and inadmissible at the Supreme Court, where the case would ultimately be decided.
They also suggested an alternative option for the judge to order the school to certify only the certificate that the president presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as evidence of his education.
A fishing expedition or a quest for truth?
Mr Gilbert’s ruling last week required CSU officials to verify under oath whether or not the certificate Mr Tinubu submitted in Nigeria was genuine.
They were also ordered to produce a certificate issued to a CSU graduate in 1979, with the name redacted, and to disclose any communications related to a letter that the school sent to Mr Tinubu in 2022.
Mr Tinubu feared that allowing the deposition of CSU officials to proceed could cause serious and irreparable harm to his life, saying that Mr Abubakar was only on a fishing expedition to fuel online conspiracy theories.
Mr Abubakar, on the other hand, insisted that he had a right to access the records as part of his constitutional duty to protect Nigeria’s democracy.
He accused Mr Tinubu of hiding behind false claims of privacy and security to conceal his fraudulent credentials.
Mr Abubakar and Peter Obi, who was his running mate in the 2019 election, had a fallout that split their potential votes into at least two parts.
Paving the way for Mr Tinubu’s victory with 36 per cent of the vote, which was the slimmest margin in Nigerian presidential election history.
The case is still pending before Judge Maldonado, who will decide whether or not to uphold or overturn Judge Gilbert’s order.
The outcome could have significant implications for Nigeria’s political stability and Mr Tinubu’s legitimacy as president.
More details soon…
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