President Bola Tinubu on Monday begged a federal judge in the United States to ignore records that suggested the person who was admitted into Chicago State University in the 1970s was a female, saying his Nigerian political rival, Atiku Abubakar, was trying to sandbag him in the ongoing case over academic documents.
“It is established beyond peradventure that it is improper to sandbag one’s opponent by raising new matter in reply,” Tinubu said in a September 11 filing before Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
One of Tinubu’s lawyers in the case, Christopher Carmichael, entered the argument on the Nigerian president’s behalf, according to The Gazette’s report.
The response seemed a last-minute push to downplay tomorrow’s hearing by Gilbert, who had recommended that all parties appear before the court on Tuesday afternoon amid strong indications a ruling was imminent in the matter.
Abubakar was asking the court to grant enough subpoenas to compel records and depositions from CSU amid controversy on Tinubu’s admission and graduation.
The school has continued to present contradictory documents that often throw up more questions than previously conceived.
For instance, at least two different certificates issued by the school in Tinubu’s name are in the public domain. One was issued directly to Tinubu, while the other was issued to a Nigerian lawyer who obtained a subpoena for the records last year. The one given to Tinubu said he graduated on June 22, 1979, having been admitted in 1977, while the one issued to the Nigerian lawyer, Mike Enahoro-Ebah, carried June 27, 1979.
Still, additional records of admission submitted by CSU under the 2022 subpoena showed that a certain Bola Tinubu, who was admitted to CSU also in the same 1977, presented a Southwest College result belonging to a female.
Furthermore, Elnora Daniel, the CSU president who purportedly signed the 2022 certificate for Tinubu, only joined the school in 1998, or 19 years after Tinubu was said to have graduated. She left in 2008 following a financial mismanagement scandal, or 14 years before she purportedly signed the certificate as the current president of the school.
These, among other jarring anomalies in the CSU records, have rendered Abubakar no choice but to seek full disclosure under subpoena from the school, his lawyers said. The Nigerian politician intends to use the records in his ongoing judicial challenge to Tinubu’s election earlier this year, arguing that the president’s several instances of falsified records should be enough to nullify his eligibility to continue in office.
But Tinubu’s lawyers, noticing the controversy the Southwest College record generated around Tinubu’s identity, told the courts that it was a conspiracy theory and not the fault of the Nigerian leader, without mentioning that the suggestion actually came from CSU records for Tinubu.
“The quoted and referenced portion of the Nigerian court filing parrots conspiracy theories about President Tinubu, including that the degree from Chicago State University really belongs to a female named Bola Tinubu,” Tinubu’s lawyers said. “That conspiracy theory is not an asserted basis for discovery.”
Abubakar’s attorneys, led by Angela Liu, quickly filed a response to let the judge know that the argument Tinubu’s lawyers were making should be ignored and the hearing should be allowed to proceed as scheduled.
“Although Abubakar disputes the assertions made by Tinubu in his Motion for Leave and accompanying sur-response, Abubakar consents to Tinubu’s submission of the sur-response and its accompanying exhibit, Dkt. 27-1, on the assumption that the Court will allow his counsel to respond to the arguments and assertions made therein at the hearing before the Court scheduled for tomorrow (September 12, 2023),” the lawyers said.