President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, pleaded with a United States District Judge, Nancy Maldonado, to order Chicago State University to protect his privileged information such as admission records, transcripts and gender and release only his certificate to the legal team of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The motion was filed by the president’s lawyer, Christopher Carmichael, who stressed that ‘the most critical fact has already been clearly and unequivocally established’ by Tinubu’s alma mater.
The PUNCH earlier reported that Atiku had secured an order from a US magistrate, Jeffrey Gilbert, for CSU to make Tinubu’s academic records available to his legal team.
The documents sought by Atiku, through his counsel, Angela Liu, include the record of Tinubu’s admission and acceptance at CSU, dates of attendance, degrees, awards and honours attained by the former governor of Lagos State at the university, among others.
As the deadline given by Gilbert drew nearer last Thursday, Tinubu’s lawyers approached Maldonado, arguing that the earlier decision by Gilbert needed to be reviewed by a district judge.
The request for a review and delay of the order till Monday was eventually granted by the US district judge.
But on Monday, the president’s legal team pleaded with Maldonado to release only the certificate and preclude Tinubu’s other privileged records.
The motion filed by the lawyer partly read, “The most critical fact has already been clearly and unequivocally established by Chicago State University: Intervenor was awarded the degree as he stated. This point is irrelevant to the applicant because he is not seeking anything more than opposition research on a political opponent.
“The magistrate judge clearly erred in granting the application for discovery and concluding that Chicago State University must respond to the document and deposition subpoenas. That conclusion should be set aside and the application should be denied because the information sought cannot be used and therefore is not ‘for use’ in the foreign proceedings.
“Even if a narrow subset of information can be considered ‘for use’ in the foreign proceeding, that is limited to the diploma submitted to INEC. Fishing expeditions into other documents and more document productions must be precluded.”
The development is coming two days after the self-acclaimed classmate of the president, Olajide Adeniji, testified in the US district court that he knows and contested against Tinubu as President of the Accounting Society Club at the Department of Business Admin/Accounting in the same Chicago State University.
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In the oath he took on September 23 at the Northern District of Illinois Court in Chicago, Adeniji swore that he was familiar with the same Tinubu who is the current president of Nigeria.
But Atiku’s camp has sworn to resist Tinubu’s recent move, saying it was obvious the President was hiding something from Nigerians.
In an exclusive chat with our correspondent, Phrank Shaibu, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Atiku, said that they have up to 48 hours to respond to the motion in the US court.
He said, “We are aware Tinubu’s counsel filed a motion on Monday praying the US court to order Chicago State University to release only the president’s certificate.
“We are wondering why a man will demand they conceal his gender and other little details in his academic transcript. But we (Atiku’s legal team) will respond to them in the next 48 hours. The judgment will be entered by Wednesday or Thursday.”
Also, the Director of Research and Strategy of the Atiku/Okowa 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, Pedro Obaseki, alleged that the claim by Tinubu that the release of his record to the public would cause him personal pain was because the owner of the disputed certificate is a woman.
Speaking at a Zoom conference hosted by a London-based psychologist, Gold Emmanuel on Monday, Obaseki said CSU would only confirm what Atiku’s camp already knew by making public the record of Tinubu who graduated from the institution in the late 70s.
He said, “Nigerians will be more demoralised that the owner of the certificate that President Tinubu is parading is a woman. We already know it as a fact, but we are seeking the release of the documents officially by CSU.”
Speaking further in pidgin, Obaseki asked, “Wetin the man dey hide, we already have it. The outcome will give many Nigerians more heart attacks.”