We Can’t Ascertain Authenticity Of Certificate Tinubu Submitted To INEC — Chicago University Tells US Court

Chicago State University (CSU) on Tuesday, notified the United States (US) Court they could not validate the authenticity of the certificate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu submitted to Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to run for office.

The tertiary institution made the disclosure during the ruling on a subpoena application for Tinubu’s records from CSU at Northern District of Illinois.

Before Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, Michael Hayes, CSU’s lawyer explicitly stated that the school was not in a position to authenticate Tinubu’s certificate as either fake or genuine, a position that contradicts the varsity’s previous assertions that it issued a certificate to the Nigerian politician after he graduated in 1979.

“Is the diploma authentic or is it a forgery? My client can’t answer yes to either of those questions,” Hayes said at the hearing in Chicago that began at about 1:30 p.m. (local) and lasted several hours in the lawsuit brought by petitioner Atiku Abubakar, Tinubu’s main challenger during the February 25 poll.

According to him, the school’s administrators — if asked under oath — won’t be able to certify Tinubu’s certificate because they “just don’t know” where he obtained it or how.

Hayes was responding to the judge’s inquiry into the school’s ability to confirm under oath that Tinubu was issued the certificate he tendered to Nigeria’s electoral office as part of his final eligibility paperwork in June 2022.

He however posited that CSU records showed Tinubu attended the school, but admitted there were several contradictions that the school’s administrators won’t be able to clarify under oath.

Those discrepancies include the June 22, 1977, date that Tinubu’s certificate carried, as well as the school’s president at the time the certificate was obtained and typographical, font and header errors on the document.

Information Nigeria reports that June 17, 2022, Tinubu submitted a certificate to INEC that was purportedly issued in 1979 and signed by Elnora Daniel.

However, Daniel only arrived at CSU in 1998 from Hampton University, 19 years after Tinubu was said to have graduated.

Daniel then 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 the President’s education there.

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These discrepancies, among others, spurred Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party 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.

Atiku’s representative in court, Alexandre de Gramont, said the documents and depositions are being sought for use in the Nigerian Supreme Court, where the final battle over Tinubu’s election is now headed.

Gramont said the Nigerian Court of Appeal upheld Mr Tinubu’s election in its September 6 ruling because the panel did not have CSU’s position on the authenticity of the certificate Tinubu presented, saying the Supreme Court might be able to admit CSU’s position on the document under a special rule.

“Your Honour, we don’t know whether the Nigerian Supreme Court would be receptive to the new evidence or not, but we just want to be able to present the new evidence to them from CSU,” Gramont said.

“We already have them (the documents), what we are seeking is CSU’s authentication or their explanation for some of the discrepancies.”

Note that the former Vice President has until September 20 to appeal the September 6 decision of the Court of Appeal.

Tinubu’s lawyers, represented via telephone conference by Christopher Carmichael, said Abubakar was on a fishing expedition.

According to Carmichael, previous statements of CSU to the effect that Tinubu graduated from the school were enough.

Carmichael said there was no need to produce further evidence or place the school’s officials under oath to speak to the authenticity of Tinubu’s Certificate.

The proceeding, he said, would only fuel online trolls because the Supreme Court won’t accept new evidence even if produced.

Judge Gilbert said the court has always taken a liberal and broad view in granting similar requests under Section 1782, a statute that allows the release of documents and evidence domiciled in the U.S. to be obtained and used in a foreign proceeding.

Consequently, Judge Gilbert said he would need additional time to reflect before ruling on the matter, but asked lawyers to all the parties to go through records submitted before the court and update them if necessary in the meantime.

He said a date for a final ruling or additional hearing would be communicated to the parties.

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Meanwhile, Durojaiye Ogunsanya, a public affairs analyst, says he was a classmate of Tinubu at the CSU.

During a chat with Television Continental on Monday, Ogunsanya said he graduated alongside Tinubu at CSU from the department of accounting and business administration in 1979.

When asked about his thoughts on the controversy over Tinubu’s academic records, he said: “We were in the same department, class, and college.

“We met in school at Chicago State University (CSU) and we were in the same department — college of accounting, business administration — with a major in accounting.

“We graduated together. He did attend the Chicago State University and he graduated in 1979 as I did. I’m here to testify that he did attend the university and he was a good student.

“People were being mischievous in the first place because he was a governor for eight years, he worked for Mobil for several years and you are contesting that he did not go to university. How is that possible?

“I can’t imagine how that is possible. Sometimes, the president might be embellished but that does not mean he did not attend university.”

Speaking further, Ogunsanya said Tinubu was elected as the president of the accounting student club at CSU between 1978/1979.

He added that colleagues often mocked Tinubu for his “deep” Nigerian accent in the US.

“We were members of the accounting club in the school. When the time for the election came, the president surprised me.

“There was a time he became the president of the club. Go and check it out. We were even laughing at him with his accent.

“He had a Nigerian accent and because of that we were laughing at him,” Durojaiye said.

He added that Tinubu was a sociable and ambitious person during his days at the CSU.