Chicago State University (CSU), yesterday, on the order of Judge Nancy Maldonado of United States District Court of Illinois, released the academic records of President Bola Tinubu in its custody.

Deposition of  CSU staff will take place today in court.

Although the institution failed to produce an original copy of Tinubu’s 1979 certificate in it Response to Request No 2. “CSU does not in the ordinary course keep copies of students’ diploma, and after diligent search cannot locate a copy of the original diploma it prepared for Mr Tinubu in 1979, hence, has no document responsive to this request,” the released document stated.

According to THISDAY, the university was able to produce diploma certificates of other graduates not requested by Atiku the released documents, as suspected by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar,  exposed variations in signatories and logo as well as revealing the fact that the president  attended the university after he “graduated” from Government College, Lagos, in 1970.

In its compliance to the request for records, CSU stated that; “The documents responsive to this request which CSU, after diligent search, has been able to locate are produced herewith and Bates labeled CSU 008n through CSU 0010. The students’ names on these diplomas have been redacted for privacy reasons.  CSU is also producing, Bates labeled as CSU 0011 and 0012, diplomas produced for other CSU students (with their names redacted for privacy) which match the format of the Tinubu replacement dated June 27, 1997,” the university wrote.       Many however believe the deposition today would bring clarity on all the issues

Maldonado had, in a ruling, ordered CSU to make all requested documents available before the court by noon yesterday, Chicago time.

The released records contained 32 documents.

Tinubu’s primary and secondary education, like his university, had remained subjects of major controversy.

Besides the variations in the names of signatories in the certificate and number of persons, who signed various certificates issued in 1979, there was also a huge variation in the logo of the institution.

The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused Tinubu of forging his CSU certificate submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the 2023 presidential election. He had on August 2 applied to a US magistrate court for an order of discovery compelling the CSU to release the academic records of Tinubu.

Although Tinubu had objected to the release and approached a district court to review the grant of the application by Justice Jeffrey Gilbert, after listening to parties in the suit, Maldonado held that there was need for the said documents be released to Atiku.

She subsequently adopted the ruling of Gilbert and gave Monday as deadline for the university to comply with the order of court.

In the court documents, CSU, through its lawyer, Michael Hayes, told the district court, “After diligent search”, the CSU “has been able to locate” and “produced herewith and Bates labelled CSU 0001 through CSU 0007”, true and correct copy of any diploma for a Bachelor of Science degree issued by CSU in 1979.

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Hayes pointed out that in respect of Atiku’s request for a true and correct copy of any diploma issued by CSU in 1979 to Tinubu, the institution could not lay its hands on it.

Apart from the copies of CSU’s certificates, other documents released included a Southwest College Transcript, which Tinubu was said to have used in gaining admission into CSU in September 1977.

The document confirmed Atiku’s allegation that the Tinubu admitted into CSU in 1977 was a female and with social security number 231-06-0595.

The document further revealed that Tinubu claimed to have graduated from Government College, Lagos, in 1970. But the college was not founded until 1974.

Similarly, a University of Cambridge General Certificate of Education, Tinubu attached as part of his credentials, showed Physics, Chemistry and Biology as three subjects he sat for in the November/December exam in 1970.

The released documents further showed that Tinubu’s record, following his consent, was released to one Mr Wole Afolabi on June 28, 2023; the document was signed by Jamar Orr, who also last year asserted that Tinubu graduated from CSU in 1979.

But Atiku had in his revised subpoena specifically requested true and correct copies of four document: (1) an example of a CSU diploma for a Bachelor of Science degree issued in 1979; (2) Tinubu’s diploma issued in 1979; (3) any examples of a CSU diploma that “contains the same font, seal, signatures, and wording (other than the name of the recipient and the specific degree awarded)” as the copy of the diploma that was purportedly issued to Tinubu on or about June 22, 1979; and (4) certain other CSU documents that were apparently certified and produced by Jamar Orr (an Associate General Counsel at CSU) in other Nigerian proceedings, as well as communications relating to these documents (the “Orr Documents”).

In addition, Atiku sought a deposition by CSU pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 30(b)(6), seeking to explore five topics through deposition: (1) the authenticity of the documents produced by CSU in response to the application and how and where CSU located the documents; (2) CSU’s position on the authenticity of other CSU documents related to Tinubu, purportedly, produced by CSU in another Nigerian proceeding (“Enahoro-Ebah v. Tinubu”); (3) the contents of an affidavit from CSU’s registrar Caleb Westberg; (4) CSU’s position on the authenticity of a letter from Westberg (the “Westberg Letter”) on CSU letterhead regarding Tinubu, including who requested the letter, who prepared the letter, and to whom it was sent; and (5) CSU’s position on the authenticity of the Orr Documents and other facts regarding why the documents were certified, if Mr. Orr was authorised to do so, who requested the documents, and to whom they were sent.

Atiku and PDP, which came second in the last presidential election with over six million votes, is seeking the nullification of Tinubu’s presidency on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the electoral laws, massive irregularities, corrupt practices, among others.

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The former vice president alleged that Tinubu ought not to have contested the February 25 presidential election over alleged criminal offences bordering on forgery, perjury and possession of double citizenship.

But a five-member panel of the presidential election tribunal, in their unanimous judgement delivered on September 6, dismissed Atiku and PDP’s petition for lacking merit.

While the tribunal held that the petitioners did not prove allegations made against the conduct of the presidential poll, it refused to consider and determine the allegations of certificate forgery and perjury against Tinubu on the grounds that they failed to list the allegations in their main petition.

Bent on proving the allegations, Atiku approached the US court for additional evidence, which he hoped to tender before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, where he had already filed an appeal against what he claimed was a “perverse” judgement of the presidential tribunal.

He predicated his application on Order 2 of the Supreme Court Rule, which stipulates, “A party, who wishes the court to receive the evidence of witnesses (whether they were or were not called at the trial) or to order the production of any document, exhibit or other thing connected with the proceedings in accordance with the provisions of Section 33 of the Act, shall apply for leave on notice of motion prior to the date set down for the hearing of the appeal.

“The application shall be supported by affidavit of the fact on which the party relies for making it and of the nature of the evidence or the document concerned.

“It shall not be necessary for the other party to answer the additional evidence intended to be called but if leave is granted the other party shall be entitled to a reasonable opportunity to give his own evidence in reply if he so wishes.”

In the application filed on August 2, Atiku requested for an order of mandamus compelling the CSU to release information regarding Tinubu’s record. He argued that Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian constitution (amended in 2010) specifically stated that no one would be legitimately elected president of Nigeria if the person “has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Tinubu had on June 17, 2022 submitted a certificate to INEC that was purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel. But Ms Daniel only arrived at CSU in 1998 from Hampton University, 19 years after Tinubu was said to have graduated. She left the school in 2008 following a financial mismanagement scandal, or 14 years before June 2022, when CSU issued yet a fresh certificate in Tinubu’s name under subpoena from a Nigerian lawyer, who had inquired about Tinubu’s education there.

The irregularities prompted Atiku to file the suit to compel CSU to produce records relating to Tinubu and make its top officials available for deposition to certify the produced records, according to the Nigerian opposition leader’s lawyers.

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