The legal team of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, has revealed some major errors in the university certificates of President Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The errors were discovered in the course of seeking a United States (US) court order to subpoena Tinubu’s academic records from Chicago State University (CSU) in the US. Atiku had filed an application before the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that there were discrepancies in Tinubu’s background and qualifications. He claimed that Tinubu had lied about his age, his name, and his academic achievements. He also alleged that Tinubu had used different names and dates of birth in different documents. He requested the court grant him access to Tinubu’s files domiciled at CSU, where Tinubu claimed to have graduated in 1979.
According to a document Legit.ng obtained, Atiku’s attorney Mike Ozekhome (SAN) listed a few of the mistakes found in Tinubu’s certificates as follows:
- Tinubu’s certificate of graduation from CSU bears the name “Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu”, while his certificate of admission into the university bears the name “Bola Ahmed Tinubu”.
- Tinubu’s certificate of graduation from CSU shows that he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, while his certificate of admission into the university shows that he was admitted to study Political Science.
- Tinubu’s certificate of graduation from CSU indicates that he graduated on August 29, 1979, while his certificate of admission into the university indicates that he was admitted on September 3, 1979.
- Tinubu’s certificate of graduation from CSU has a signature that does not match the signature of the registrar of the university at the time.
- Tinubu’s certificate of graduation from CSU has a stamp that does not match the official stamp of the university.
Ozekhome argued that these errors cast serious doubt on the authenticity and validity of Tinubu’s certificates and qualifications. He urged the court to grant his application and compel CSU to release Tinubu’s records for verification. He said that the information sought by Atiku was relevant and material to his petition challenging Tinubu’s victory at the presidential election tribunal.
However, lawyers for President Tinubu, while filing their response to Atiku’s inquiry, blamed the clerk of the 156-year-old school for the errors in his academic documents and certificate. They also opposed Atiku’s application, saying that it was an abuse of the court process and a fishing expedition. They said that Atiku had failed to show any prima facie case or any reasonable ground to warrant the court’s grant of his request. They also said that Atiku had failed to join Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, who won nine and one state, respectively, in the election, as parties to his petition.
The US court has yet to rule on Atiku’s application and Tinubu’s response. The outcome of this case may have significant implications for the ongoing election petition tribunal in Nigeria.