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Bola Tinubu moves to block FBI, CIA, other U.S. agencies from releasing confidential files as October ending deadline looms

The Nigerian president’s lawyers would work to file a full argument soonest in order to stand a chance of being able to argue any reliefs before the October 31 deadline.

• October 18, 2023
Bola Tinubu and FBI
Bola Tinubu and FBI

President Bola Tinubu is in yet another scramble to block records relating to him from being disclosed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and other United States services.

Court filings seen by Peoples Gazette showed Mr Tinubu’s lawyers in the U.S. have filed motions to appear in an ongoing freedom of information action brought against the U.S. organisations where records that may help answer questions about the president’s real identity and decades-long endeavours are domiciled. 

Christopher Carmichael, one of the lawyers who represented Mr Tinubu in the recent Chicago records case, filed the motion, dated October 18, 2023, stating that he was a lawyer in good standing to appear in the case in the FOIA lawsuit underway in Washington D.C., filings said.

“Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 83.2(c), Bryan A. Carey moves for the admission and appearance of attorney Christopher Carmichael pro hac vice in the above-entitled action,” Mr Carey, who practices in D.C., said on Mr Carmichael’s behalf. “This motion is supported by the Declaration of Christopher Carmichael. As set forth in Mr. Carmichael’s declaration, he is admitted and an active member in good standing.” 

What informed Mr Tinubu’s expectation that he could block U.S. agencies from complying with federal disclosure regulations remained unclear. Mr Carmichael did not immediately return a request seeking comments, and the president’s lead lawyer in the U.S., Oluwole Afolabi, told The Gazette he could not comment on the case until it has officially commenced. The lawyers would work to file a full argument soonest in order to stand a chance of being able to argue any reliefs before the October 31 deadline.

Mr Tinubu was alerted to the lawsuit when The Gazette reported on September 11 that the FBI had agreed to turn over 2,500 pages of response information on the Nigerian leader. The president was previously investigated for narcotics trafficking in the U.S. in the 1990s, during which he was compelled to forfeit $460,000 via a federal court order in Chicago.

The FBI said it was planning to release the records before the end of October to Aaron Greenspan, the proprietor of PlainSite, a website that pushes anti-corruption and transparency in public service, The Gazette reported.

Several other U.S. institutions, including the U.S. State Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Drug Enforcement Administration, have all indicated readiness to turn over thousands of pages of Bola Tinubu-related records. 

Mr Tinubu’s move came two weeks after he lost a fierce battle to block a federal court in Chicago from releasing his academic records to Atiku Abubakar, his main political rival in Nigeria. The school ultimately released the records, which showed that a certain Bola Tinubu was admitted into the school in 1977.

Still, the school said it only assumed, based on a cursory look at records, that its former student was the Nigerian president, but also said under oath that it could not authenticate the certificate he used to run for office in Nigeria in June 2022.

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