Academic record: Delay Atiku’s request, Tinubu begs US court


President Bola Tinubu, on Thursday, filed an emergency motion to stop the Chicago State University, United States, from releasing his academic record to the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Tinubu is seeking a delay in the implementation of the self-effectuating order directing the CSU to comply with Atiku’s subpoenas till Monday.

Rayve.Ng reports that Magistrate Jeffrey Gilbert of the US District Court for Northern District of Illinois, had on Tuesday ordered Tinubu’s alma mater to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents to the applicant, Atiku, within two days.

Documents sought by the PDP candidate, through his counsel, Angela Liu, include the record of admission and acceptance at the university, dates of attendance including degrees, awards, and honours attained by Tinubu at the university, among others.

The All Progress Congress had dismissed the efforts of the PDP standard bearer to obtain the President’s academic record as ‘’an expedition in futility.’’

The ruling party said it had nothing to fear as the President had always boasted that he had nothing to hide.

But Atiku in pursuit of his allegations that Tinubu was ineligible to contest the February 2023 presidential election secured the order to compel the CSU to release the President’s record.

Atiku and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, had challenged Tinubu’s electoral victory at the Supreme Court following the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which upheld the President’s mandate on September 6.

Atiku approached the US court for an order compelling the CSU to release Tinubu’s academic record, questioning alleged gaps in the President’s academic history.

Tinubu’s credentials indicated that he graduated from CSU in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Accounting and Management, but there have been allegations of discrepancies with his academic record.

But justifying his decision to obtain the President’s record, Atiku said unless a clarification was made, it would be difficult for Nigerians to understand the academic journey of the former Lagos State governor.

In response to an order by the court that he should make a formal filing on why his records should not be released, Tinubu claimed a clerical error was responsible for the discrepancies on the certificate issued to him by the university.

According to filings by Tinubu’s lawyers, Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Carmichael, an unidentified clerk of the university made the error about the date the school stated on his recently-issued certificate, thereby creating “the appearance of differences.”

Regardless of his opposition to Atiku’s application, Magistrate Gilbert ordered the CSU to release all relevant academic records of the President to his political adversary.

The judge stated, “This matter is before the court on Atiku Abubakar’s Application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782 for an Order Directing Discovery from Chicago State University for Use in a Foreign Proceeding (“Application”) [ECF No. 1]. For the reasons discussed below, the application is granted.”

But in a new twist on Thursday, the counsel to the former Lagos State governor, Christopher Carmichael, filed an emergency motion titled, ‘Emergency motion to delay dispositive ruling number 23CV5099’ signed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

The motion read in part “Intervenor asks this court to enter an immediate order delaying the effect of the magistrate’s order, at least until Monday, September 25, 2023, so the court may fully consider both the scope of the magistrate’s authority to issue the order without review, and the issue of whether the magistrate’s order was a correct application of the law to the facts presented.’’

In support of his motion, Tinubu said his request was based on the fact that the “Applicant (Atiku) is challenging an election that occurred in Nigeria in February 2023. Applicant filed his action under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 on August 2, 2023, after dismissing a similar Illinois State court action that was originally filed July 11, 2023.’’

“The limited time available is therefore due to the applicant’s decision to seek information utilising section 1782 six months after the election concluded. This court referred the applicant’s request to issue discovery to the magistrate. (Dkts. 6 & 7.)”

Tinubu’s legal team argued that he was unaware until the issuance of the ruling directing CSU to release his records to Atiku that the magistrate intended to issue a binding ruling requiring compliance without any action by the court.

The lawyer further argued that “Considering the nature of applications for discovery under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, the Ninth Circuit concluded a magistrate may only report and recommend to a district judge, in CPC Patent Technologies PTY Ltd. v. Apple, Inc., the Ninth Circuit held.”

Tinubu’s emergency motion was electronically filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois through the Case Management/Electronic Case File.