Nigerian opposition leader Atiku Abubakar’s push to establish the ineligibility of Bola Tinubu’s to be Nigeria’s president seemed to be gathering the perfect momentum.
The former vice president dealt a fatal legal blow to Tinubu in the United States on Tuesday as a federal court in the North American nation ruled in his (Atiku) favour.
This is as a federal court in Chicago ordered Chicago State University (CSU) to release all records relating to Tinubu to Abubakar.
The court, in its ruling on Tuesday night, averred that Abubakar has sufficiently satisfied the purpose for requesting the records, Peoples Gazette reports
Judge Jeffrey Gilbert also ordered a deposition of designated CSU officials within two days after the records have been released, noting further that the process can be conducted during the weekend if necessary.
“For all of the reasons discussed above, 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 [ECF No. 1] is granted,” Mr Gilbert ruled. “Respondent CSU shall produce all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to requests for production Nos. 1 through 4 (as narrowed by the court) in applicant subpoena within two days of the entry of this memorandum opinion and order.”
“The deposition of respondent’s corporate designee shall proceed within two days of the production of documents. The parties can modify the dates set by the court by mutual agreement. Given the tight time frame under which the parties are operating, the deposition can, if necessary, occur on a non-weekday,” the court added.
The order comes hours after Abubakar filed his appeal to the Supreme Court, following the September 6 judgement of the presidential election petitions tribunal that upheld Mr Tinubu’s victory.
Abubakar had on August 2 filed an application for the court to order CSU to produce documents relating to Tinubu, as well as leave to get the school’s administrators to authenticate any documents submitted under oath.
Abubakar said the documents would be used as part of his ongoing challenge against Tinubu’s election earlier this year. The candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party said Tinubu should not have been allowed to run for president because he had submitted a forged document under oath in violation of the Nigerian Constitution.
Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution (amended in 2010) specifically stated that no one would be legitimately elected president of Nigeria if the person “has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
On June 17, 2022, Mr Tinubu submitted a certificate to INEC that was purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel. But Ms Daniel only arrived at CSU in 1998 from Hampton University, 19 years after Mr Tinubu was said to have graduated. She left the school in 2008 following a financial mismanagement scandal, or 14 years before June 2022 when CSU issued yet a fresh certificate in Tinubu’s name under subpoena from a Nigerian lawyer who had inquired about Mr Tinubu’s education there.
The irregularities spurred Abubakar to file the suit to compel CSU to produce records relating to Tinubu and make its top officials available for deposition to certify the produced records, according to the Nigerian opposition leader’s lawyers.
During a hearing on the matter on September 12, the CSU’s lawyer Michael Hayes, said the school could not authenticate Mr Tinubu’s certificate if asked under oath, although he said Mr Tinubu attended the school and graduated in 1979.