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Tinubu says Chicago varsity clerk made mistake on credentials



Bola Tinubu, the incumbent President of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate for the February 25, 2023 election, has reportedly pointed the blame at the clerk of Chicago State University for the discrepancies observed in a certificate recently reprinted in his name. According to an online news source, President Tinubu raised this concern in an official court submission as observed by the platform.

President Tinubu asserted that the unnamed clerk had committed errors regarding the dates indicated on his newly issued certificate and the graduation date, thus resulting in what appeared to be disparities. These inaccuracies were brought to light in President Tinubu’s statement, which was submitted on August 23 through his legal representation. This submission was made as part of his defense in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Judge Jeffrey Gilbert had set a deadline of August 23 for President Tinubu to provide an explanation as to why his educational records from CSU should not be made available to his political rival, Atiku Abubakar. Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had recently sought court approval to issue a subpoena for President Tinubu’s records housed within CSU. Atiku’s motivation stemmed from a belief that these documents would elucidate the conspicuous incongruities in President Tinubu’s background. Publicly accessible records had indicated that CSU admitted a female student by the name of Bola Tinubu, born on March 29, 1954, during the 1970s.

Atiku’s legal action was based on a U.S. legal provision permitting the subpoenaing of documents available in the United States for use as evidence in foreign court proceedings.

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.