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Atiku’s election petition outweighs Tinubu’s privacy rights because Nigerian president submitted unclear certificate to INEC: U.S. Judge

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Supreme Court, Atiku-Tinubus-certificate-and-Tinubu
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U.S. Judge Rules in favour of Atiku’s Election Petition, Citing the Need for Transparency in Educational Records.

United States – Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has ruled in favour of Atiku Abubakar, the Nigerian opposition leader, in his pursuit of transparency regarding President Bola Tinubu’s academic records.

The case arose from inconsistencies in the educational qualifications submitted by Mr. Tinubu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he ran for office in 2022. Atiku Abubakar sought a subpoena to obtain Mr. Tinubu’s academic records, believing that discrepancies in these records could nullify Mr. Tinubu’s election.

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Mr. Tinubu argued that granting access to his records would violate his privacy rights under the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA), a U.S. law protecting academic records. However, Judge Gilbert ruled that the need to verify the authenticity of the diploma submitted by Mr. Tinubu to INEC outweighed his privacy concerns.

FERPA permits records disclosure if necessary to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order. Judge Gilbert stated that Mr. Tinubu had put his diploma at issue by submitting it to INEC, making it subject to public scrutiny, especially given the political implications.

The judge emphasized that Atiku Abubakar’s election petition was of paramount importance and took precedence over Mr. Tinubu’s claim to privacy rights. While acknowledging that there was a burden on the party requesting educational records to demonstrate that their interest outweighed the student’s privacy interest, Judge Gilbert ruled that Atiku Abubakar had satisfied this burden.

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As a result, the court granted Atiku Abubakar’s application to obtain Mr. Tinubu’s records from Chicago State University (CSU) for use in a foreign proceeding. CSU was ordered to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents within two days.

Atiku Abubakar, who filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge the election petitions tribunal’s verdict affirming Mr. Tinubu’s victory, hopes to use these records as evidence in his case. The subpoena will provide clarification regarding Mr. Tinubu’s admission to CSU and the authenticity of the diploma he submitted to INEC.

CSU has until Thursday evening to supply the requested documents and make its officials available to testify under oath about their authenticity. The university had previously admitted that it could not authenticate Mr. Tinubu’s certificate.

This ruling underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in the electoral process and affirms the principle that candidates must provide accurate and verifiable information when running for public office.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Ejes Gist Media Limited. For any rights infringements or takedown requests, please contact us at [email protected].
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