President Bola Tinubu has lost his emergency application to block Chicago State University from releasing his academic records to Atiku Abubakar as Judge Nancy Maldonado of the United States District Court ruled that the Chicago State University turn over the academic records of President Tinubu to Atiku Abubakar.
The decision was made on September 19 by a lower federal magistrate judge was appropriate, according to Judge Nancy Maldonado of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, and she adopted it in its entirety.
“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, the judge ruled. 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.”
District Judge Maldonado also ordered the CSU to deliver the records to Atiku Abubakar by Monday at noon and to have its personnel accessible for deposition to certify the materials by the same evening at 5:00 p.m.
As of October 5, Abubakar must send the gathered evidence to the Nigerian Supreme Court for use in an ongoing election petition case, the court declared that any attempt by Tinubu to appeal the ruling in the district would no longer be tolerated.
“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 noon CDT, on Monday, October 2, 2023,” she added. “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.”
However, the judge stated that Tinubu was free to submit his appeal directly to the Seventh Circuit, which serves as the primary appellate court for Illinois and the surrounding states.
This would be a challenging endeavour given the short time frame for CSU's compliance.
The decision is a severe setback for Tinubu and a major success for Atiku Abubakar, who had been requesting the records to prove that Tinubu had filed a falsified certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission when he applied to run for president in June 2022.
Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution (as modified in 2010) expressly states that no one can be constitutionally elected president of Nigeria if they "presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission."
Before making her decision late Saturday night, Judge Maldonado noted the case's strong public interest dimension, stating it would drive her to hasten justice for all parties.
The President did not refute that the certificate was faked, especially because it was allegedly signed by administrators who were not even at the school when he graduated in 1979, but rather asserted that he attended and graduated with the school.
He also claimed that releasing the documents with the deposition would cause him significant harm because they were personal to him and would not be admissible in the ongoing petition against him in Nigeria, an argument that fueled widespread concern about what the president may have been hiding from Nigerians.
The CSU stated that while it will state under oath that Tinubu attended, it will be unable to confirm the legitimacy of the certificate he paraded in Nigeria under oath.
During tomorrow's records release and cross-examination, Abubakar's lawyers will be able to put the school's allegations to the test against Tinubu's.