•BBC says documents confirm President’s CSU diploma, APC carpets Atiku, Obi
•PDP, LP tackle Tinubu, say certificate issue tarnishing nation’s image
The camps of the Peoples Democratic Party standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, have protested the BBC report that there is no evidence to back the diploma forgery allegation against President Bola Tinubu.
BBC’s Global Disinformation Team had in a fact-checking report published on Wednesday said there was no evidence that Tinubu forged the Chicago State University certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission to contest the February presidential election.
The BBC report concluded that the allegation that Tinubu submitted a forged CSU certificate to the INEC was false.
The Global Disinformation Team explained that it fact-checked the most widely circulated claims to arrive at its conclusion.
The allegation of certificate forgery levelled against Tinubu has been roiling the polity with his opponents in the last election-Atiku and Obi-taking the ex-Lagos State governor to task over the issue.
Reports that the ex-Lagos State governor’s certificate was faked went viral on social media following the release of his CSU academic records.
The release of the president’s academic documents is the culmination of a judicial case filed in August by former Vice President Atiku, who is seeking to overturn Tinubu’s electoral victory at the Supreme Court.
Atiku had accused Tinubu of falsifying the CSU diploma of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration awarded in 1979 that he submitted to the electoral body.
In a move to strengthen his election petition appeal filed at the apex court, the PDP standard bearer asked an Illinois, Chicago court to compel the CSU to release the President’s academic records, including a copy of any diploma issued by CSU in 1979, a copy of the diploma the CSU gave to Tinubu in 1979, copies of diplomas with the same font, seal, signatures, and wording awarded to other students that are similar to what CSU awarded to him in 1979.
He also demanded documents from the CSU that were certified by Jamar Orr, who was then a staff member of the CSU.
Atiku’s application was opposed by Tinubu’s lawyers citing privacy concerns, but the US court decided it should proceed and the school subsequently released the academic records.
In line with the court ruling, Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu, questioned the CSU registrar, Caleb Westberg, in a deposition.
The report read, “Some social media users in Nigeria allege that the deposition and the diplomas released by CSU confirm that the diploma submitted to INEC by Mr Tinubu was forged. This claim was also repeated by one of Mr Abubakar’s lawyers, Kalu Kalu, at a press conference last week.
“We found there was no evidence to support this claim. Many social media users in Nigeria have been sharing false or misleading posts about the deposition of Caleb Westberg, the current CSU Registrar.
“The CSU released several diplomas issued between 1979 and 2003. We analysed all of them. There are three different diplomas for Mr Tinubu that we refer to throughout our analysis:
“The original one from 1979, which he has said in the past was lost when he went into exile in the 1990s. The second one that he submitted to INEC, supposedly a replacement diploma from CSU (it is similar to diplomas issued by CSU in the 1990s).
“Additionally, CSU holds another replacement diploma for Mr Tinubu that they say is probably from the early 2000s that he never collected. The allegations on social media are based on a comparison between the document Mr Tinubu submitted to INEC and the 1979 diplomas released by CSU.’’
During Westberg’s deposition, the BBC noted that Atiku’s lawyer focused on the copy of the diploma Tinubu handed to the electoral commission and suggested that it was unlike any of the diplomas released by the CSU.