President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, objected to the release of his Chicago State University (CSU) records to the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar.
Tinubu pleaded that if the court was inclined to grant Atiku’s application for discovery, it should be limited to only his diploma certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the 2023 presidential election, which he won.
But Director of Research and Documentation, Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, said the reason Atiku insisted on open and full disclosure of Tinubu’s credentials by the CSU was because they actually belonged to a woman. Obaseki made the allegation during a zoom conference hosted by London-based psychologist, Professor Gold Emmanuel.
In his latest plea to the court, Tinubu said, “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.”
Tinubu, through his lawyer, Mr Christopher Carmichael, made the plea before Judge Nancy Maldonado, a Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of a Magistrate Court in Chicago had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the CSU to release Tinubu’s academic records to Atiku to enable him prove allegations of forgery and perjury he levelled against Tinubu at the presidential election tribunal.
Atiku had argued that Tinubu ought not to be on the ballot on the grounds of presenting false and forged documents to INEC.
The main opposition party candidate had pointed out that there was variation in the dates in Tinubu’s Diploma certificate, adding that other documents relating to Tinubu’s record in the institution showed the president as a female.
Although the tribunal, in its judgement of September 6, had dismissed Atiku’s request for the disqualification of Tinubu over his certificate controversies, Atiku told the US court that the apex court could consider fresh evidence against Tinubu.
Following his conviction that Atiku’s application had merit and outweighed Tinubu’s plea of protection and privacy, Gilbert ordered that Tinubu’s record be released to confirm or dispute Atiku’s allegations.
But a few hours to the execution of the order, Tinubu, in a fresh emergency application, begged the district court to delay the enforcement of the order of Gilbert till yesterday, September 25. He claimed Atiku would not be prejudiced against if the court delayed the release of the said documents, as he still had up till September 27 to submit materials in support of his appeal at the Supreme Court.
In a short ruling, Thursday night, via a telephone conference, Maldonado, who agreed that the matter might be too severe for Tinubu to bear, subsequently granted the application, adding, “This needs to be handled with care.”
When the matter came up yesterday, Tinubu told Maldonado that Atiku “is not seeking anything more than opposition research on a political opponent”, adding that the magistrate, “clearly erred in granting the application for discovery and concluding that Chicago State University must respond to the document and deposition subpoenas”.
While stating that there was no presumption in favour of applications to conduct discovery under Section 1782, Tinubu urged the court to deny outright the application or narrowly limit it to “a handful of questions about the diploma submitted to INEC”. He predicated his arguments on the grounds that the, “Discovery could not be for use in the foreign proceeding because the Nigerian election court held that it cannot be used and the only document at issue is the diploma.”
Besides, Tinubu submitted that the discovery was unduly intrusive to Private And Confidential Educational Records, which, by the United States laws, could not be released without Tinubu’s consent.
He argued, “The Magistrate erroneously concluded that a foray into ‘other educational documents’ was permissible because ‘Intervenor also submitted other educational documents in a related proceeding in Nigeria.
“There are three shortcomings with this conclusion. First, the Nigerian constitution and Electoral Act pertain to submissions to the INEC. There is no assertion that submissions as a defence in a different and subsequent proceeding will cause disqualification.
“Second, the other submissions occurred in a ‘related proceeding,’ and Applicant justified the discovery here about the election challenge now proceeding before the Nigerian Supreme Court.
“Discovery about ‘other documents’ cannot be ‘for use’ in the election challenge proceeding.
“Third, the catchall category of ‘other documents’ is vague and is cover for a fishing expedition into protected, private, and confidential records.
“The Magistrate erred in requiring compliance with two subpoenas that go far beyond the narrow issue of the diploma submitted to the INEC, and finding that the education records protections were overcome by Applicant’s investigatory interests.”
Pedro Obaseki: Tinubu’s CSU Credentials Owned By Woman
Director of Research and Documentation of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, said the former vice president, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, insisted on open and full disclosure of President Bola Tinubu’s credentials by the Chicago State University (CSU) because they belonged to a woman.
Obaseki said despite Tinubu’s claim that a public disclosure of his CSU documents would cause “severe and irreparable damage” to him, Nigerians would be more shocked to know that the owner of the certificate in question was a woman.
He stated, “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 in Pidgin English at a zoom conference hosted by a psychologist based in London, Professor Gold Emmanuel, Obaseki asked, “Wetin the man dey hide? We already have it. The outcome go give many Nigerians more heart attack.”
Obaseki also explained that Atiku was seeking an open disclosure of Tinubu’s CSU documents because the Supreme Court of Nigeria might be compelled to listen to fresh evidence in the petitions already submitted to it.
He stated, “Even when the court of first instance and the appellate court have convicted someone to death and minutes before the Supreme Court gives its final judgment and there arose fresh and compelling facts and evidence, the apex court is bound to listen to the fresh facts before making its final judgement.
“It is an unwritten proviso that where there is a compelling factual facts other than what is already obtained in the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), that the Supreme Court will be bound to accept the new facts of law and rule on them.”
Obaseki condemned the judgement of the PEPC as a journey to manufactured evidence, explaining that the 1999 Constitution, which is the grundnorm of the present presidential system in Nigeria, does not recognise the Federal Capital Territory as a state.
He stated, “Abuja cannot be called a state. A state, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, must have a state assembly of its own. A state must have a governor. Abuja, as presently constituted, is not a state.
“FCT or Abuja, as the case may be, is patterned after Washington in the United States of America. It is such made so that no one part of the country can claim it. It is home to all Nigerians. The FCT was carved out of Niger State, Kogi State, Benue State, and Nasarawa State. It cannot be declared a state by the PEPC.”