CSU lawyer Michael Hayes categorically stated that the school was not in a position to authenticate Tinubu’s certificate as either fake or genuine.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has adjourned ruling on a subpoena application for Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu’s records from the Chicago State University (CSU).
The adjournment came on Tuesday after the CSU said it was not in a position to confirm the certificate Tinubu submitted to the Nigeria's electoral commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to run for office.
According to the report, before Judge Jeffrey Gilbert in Chicago, CSU lawyer Michael Hayes categorically stated that the school was not in a position to authenticate Tinubu’s certificate as either fake or genuine.
“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 1:30pm and lasted several hours in the lawsuit brought by Atiku Abubakar, Tinubu’s main challenger during the February 25 presidential election.
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.
According to an audio of the proceeding obtained by SaharaReporters, the lawyer said, “So, that deposition is compiled with my client here and the issue is; was the June 22nd 1997 diploma that President Tinubu submitted as evidence in Nigeria and offered to the election agency there.. Is that authentic? My client can say we don’t know and we do not have his actual diploma to compare it to what we don’t have; whatever diploma issued in 1997 we can certainly verify the team information on that diploma and the date of his graduation which by the way is on his transcript that is in the public proceedings already.
“So there’s no question June 22nd 1997 was his actual date of graduation but beyond that and with the sideshow of this copy diploma is now being raised where the date was because of mistake made and whoever ordered it and whenever they ordered it a mistake was made; other than that, my client doesn’t have anything to say about these issues and all of these student records.”
On June 17, 2022, 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 Tinubu was said to have graduated. She 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 Tinubu’s education there.
The jarring contradictions, among others, caused 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.
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.
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.