A US court has adjourned ruling on a subpoena application for Bola Tinubu’s records from Chicago State University (CSU) after the institution denied knowledge of a certificate the Nigerian president submitted to the country’s electoral commission INEC to run for office.
The CSU lawyer Michael Hayes told the court that the school was not in a position to authenticate Tinubu’s certificate as either fake or genuine. He said that the school’s administrators would not be able to certify the certificate because they “just don’t know” where Tinubu obtained it or how.
Hayes also admitted that there were several contradictions in Tinubu’s certificate, including the date it was issued and the name of the school president at the time.
“Is the diploma authentic or is it a forgery? My client can’t answer yes to either of those questions,” Mr Hayes said at the hearing in Chicago in the lawsuit brought by Atiku Abubakar, Mr Tinubu’s main challenger and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the February 25 presidential election.
Atiku Abubakar filed the suit to compel CSU to produce records relating to Tinubu and make its top officials available for deposition to certify the produced records.
Abubakar’s lawyers said the documents and depositions are being sought for use in the Nigerian Supreme Court, where the final battle over Tinubu’s election is now headed.
Alexandre de Gramont, who appeared in court for Mr Abubakar, said, “Your Honour, we don’t know whether the Nigerian Supreme Court would be receptive to the new evidence or not, but we just want to be able to present the new evidence to them from CSU,” Mr de Gramont said.
“We already have them (the documents), what we are seeking is CSU’s authentication or their explanation for some of the discrepancies.”
Tinubu’s lawyers, represented via telephone conference by Christopher Carmichael, said Abubakar was on a “fishing expedition.” They noted that the previous statements of CSU to the effect that Tinubu graduated from the school were enough.
Carmichael said there was no need to produce further evidence or place the school’s officials under oath to speak to the authenticity of Tinubu’s certificate. He said the proceeding would only fuel online trolls because the Supreme Court won’t accept new evidence even if produced.
Bola Tinubu submitted a certificate to INEC on June 17, 2022, claiming it was issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel. However, it was discovered that Ms. Daniel did not enroll at CSU until 1998, 19 years after Mr. Tinubu was supposed to have graduated. Furthermore, she left the school in 2008 due to a financial mismanagement scandal, which occurred 14 years before June 2022 when CSU issued another certificate in Mr. Tinubu’s name. This issuance was prompted by a subpoena from a Nigerian lawyer who had raised questions about Mr. Tinubu’s educational background.
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