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U.S. court sets August 23 deadline for Tinubu to justify why Chicago university records should not be released to Atiku Abubakar

The subpoenaed documents would help clarify glaring inconsistencies assailing the Nigerian president’s academic background, the opposition leader asserted.

• August 16, 2023
Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar
Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar

President Bola Tinubu has until August 23 to present persuasive arguments as to why Chicago State University should not be ordered to release his academic records to Atiku Abubakar, his rival in the February 25 Nigerian presidential election, according to court filings seen by Peoples Gazette.

This deadline was imposed on August 9 by Jeffrey Gilbert, the new magistrate judge assigned to the case at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Mr Abubakar, earlier this month, requested court approval to subpoena Mr Tinubu’s files domiciled with CSU because he believed the documents would clarify glaring inconsistencies in Mr Tinubu’s background, including publicly-available documents that suggested the CSU in the 1970s admitted a female student bearing Bola Tinubu who was born on March 29, 1954. 

The Nigerian president said he was born on March 29, 1952, although he had also, at different times, listed 1954 as his birth year in the past. He also recently expunged his primary and secondary education from his records after it was discovered that the schools he listed under oath in his 1999 run for Lagos governor did not exist anywhere in Nigeria. Mr Abubakar believed the requested records would show which early and high school papers Mr Tinubu submitted to CSU before he was admitted to study accounting there. 

Shortly after Mr Abubakar approached the court for the records, Mr Tinubu promptly filed a motion to thwart the request from being granted, citing a U.S. privacy law for students.

But the court appeared interested in allowing the case to proceed after Mr Abubakar argued it has a valid jurisdiction. The judge has now set a deadline mandating Mr Tinubu to submit his argument by August 23 as to why CSU must keep his records from Mr Abubakar, filings showed.

Additionally, the U.S. court ordered Mr Abubakar to respond to Mr Tinubu’s argument by September 9 —- two weeks after Mr Tinubu’s response was anticipated. The timeline showed the court was racing to rule on the matter before September 21, when Nigeria’s election petitions tribunal would likely deliver its judgement in the suit challenging Mr Tinubu’s election victory. 

Mr Tinubu’s questionable academic history is merely one of several grounds that Mr Abubakar’s lawyers are pursuing in Nigerian courts to nullify his declaration as president and eligibility to stand for election in future. Claims ranging from narcotics dealing to money laundering and election fraud are also being argued. 

Mr Tinubu, who was sworn in as Nigerian president on May 29, has insisted he was the one who attended CSU; while dismissing his 1990s narcotics scandal as a civil forfeiture proceeding that should not carry any criminal implications for his political ambition. 

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