U.S. Court Adjourns Atiku Records Case as Chicago University Denies Knowledge of Certificate Tinubu Submitted to INEC Amidst Conflicting Claims.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has adjourned its ruling on a subpoena application for Bola Tinubu’s records from Chicago State University (CSU). This decision came shortly after the institution disavowed any knowledge of a certificate submitted by the Nigerian president to the country’s electoral commission, INEC, for his candidacy.
During the hearing before Judge Jeffrey Gilbert in Chicago, CSU lawyer Michael Hayes made it clear that the school could not authenticate Mr. Tinubu’s certificate as either genuine or fake. This stance contradicts the school’s previous claims that it issued a certificate to the Nigerian politician after his graduation in 1979.
“Is the diploma authentic or is it a forgery? My client can’t answer yes to either of those questions,” Mr. Hayes asserted during the hearing. This legal dispute stems from a lawsuit brought by Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Tinubu’s main challenger during the February 25 presidential election.
Mr. Hayes emphasized that CSU’s administrators would not be able to certify Mr. Tinubu’s certificate under oath because they simply do not have knowledge of where he obtained it or how. The judge had inquired about the school’s ability to confirm under oath that Mr. Tinubu was indeed issued the certificate he submitted to Nigeria’s electoral office as part of his final eligibility paperwork in June 2022.
Submitting dubious documents to INEC is in violation of the Nigerian Constitution, and politicians, including governors, have been removed from office for similar infractions.
Mr. Hayes acknowledged that CSU records indicated Mr. Tinubu attended the school, but he admitted that there were several contradictions that the school’s administrators would be unable to clarify under oath. These discrepancies include the June 22, 1977, date on Mr. Tinubu’s certificate, as well as errors related to the school’s president at the time, typographical mistakes, font differences, and header errors on the document.
On June 17, 2022, Mr. Tinubu submitted a certificate to INEC purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel.
However, Ms. Daniel only arrived at CSU in 1998 from Hampton University, 19 years after Mr. Tinubu was said to have graduated. She left the school in 2008 following a financial mismanagement scandal, which was 14 years before June 2022 when CSU issued yet another certificate in Mr. Tinubu’s name under subpoena from a Nigerian lawyer inquiring about Mr. Tinubu’s education at the institution.
These contradictions, among others, prompted Mr. Abubakar to file the lawsuit, seeking to compel CSU to produce records related to Mr. Tinubu and make its top officials available for deposition to certify the produced records. Alexandre de Gramont, representing Mr. Abubakar, explained that the documents and depositions are being sought for use in the Nigerian Supreme Court, where the final battle over Mr. Tinubu’s election is now headed.