Tinubu Loses Bid to Block Chicago University from Releasing his Academic Records. (SunOnline)

PEGASUS LEGAL

..As US court bans President from requesting ‘stay of execution’ on judgement

By Chinelo Obogo

President Bola Tinubu has lost his bid at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, to block Chicago University (CSU) from releasing all his academic records to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.

US Judge, Nancy Maldonado, who gave the ruling on September 30th, raised no objection to an earlier judgement by Justice Jeffery Gilbert’s that President Bola Tinubu’s academic record be made public. She ordered CSU to release the academic records to the former vice president not later than Monday, October 2.

She also ordered that the deposition of CSU must be completed by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 and cautioned that any request for a stay of this judgement pending appeal against her judgment to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal will be denied as Atiku must transfer the collected evidence to the Nigerian Supreme Court for use in the ongoing election petition case by October 5. She however said President Tinubu can file his appeal directly before the Seventh Circuit, which is the main appellate court overseeing Illinois and nearby states.

“The Court overrules President Tinubu’s objections to Magistrate Judge Gilbert’s recommended ruling and therefore adopts the ruling in full. Mr Abubakar’s application is therefore granted. In light of the pending Supreme Court of Nigeria deadline, represented to the court as October 5, 2023, and based on CSU’s representations that it is ready to comply with the discovery requests and produce a witness, the court sets an expedited schedule for completion of discovery.

“CSU is directed to produce all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to Requests for Production Nos. 1 through 4 (as narrowed by Judge Gilbert and adopted here) in Mr. Abubakar’s subpoena, by 12:00 p.m. (noon) CDT, on Monday, October 2, 2023. The Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of CSU’s corporate designee must be completed by 5:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. Given the October 5, 2023, filing deadline before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court will not extend or modify these deadlines,” she said.

Atiku had on August 2, 2023, filed a suit at the US court, demanding that CSU release all of Tinubu’s academic records over irregularities in the certificate he submitted to INEC. This move was prompted by Atiku’s belief that these documents would help clarify what he said are inconsistencies in Tinubu’s background.

The former vice president argued that among other things, a “second Chicago State University diploma dated June 27, 1979, that bears the name “Bola Ahmed Tinubu “has since emerged but also presents with a different font, punctuation, seal, and signatures, than that of the June 22, 1979 diploma, among other alleged discrepancies.”

Atiku told the US that he wanted to authenticate these documents whether a “Chicago State University diploma in the name of Bola Ahmed Tinubu dated June 22, 1979, that was submitted to the INEC before the presidential election in February 2023 is genuine or was forged.”

President Tinubu in his response, asked the court to permit CSU to release only his certificate to Atiku but block the school from revealing any other information about the person who owns the certificate, especially their gender and any records of where they went to school, among other things.

But in an application filed at the court on September 27, Atiku rejected Tinubu’s objection and description of his suit as a ‘fishing expedition ‘ which has no bearing on the presidential election petition case at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Atiku said contrary to Tinubu’s claims, the demand for the release of the academic records is not a fishing exercise but to test the authenticity of 12 pages of document including two different diplomas that was allegedly issued by CSU and the basis of CSU’s assertion that Tinubu graduated in 1979, given the discrepancies and his affidavit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He also said the discovery obtained from the case would be sent to Nigeria by October 4 so that such evidence may, in turn, be filed with the Supreme Court by October 5, which is when his counsel intends to submit any new evidence to the Supreme Court.

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