However, the Nigerian President pleaded with Judge Nancy Maldonado not to disclose other details sought by Atiku including the gender and true identity of the owner of the certificate.
Tinubu’s prayers, being championed by his attorneys, are part of an ongoing legal battle at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, where Atiku smartly filed an application a few hours after the Presidential Election Petition Court in Nigeria dismissed his petition and affirmed Tinubu as duly elected in the February 25 poll.
Tinubu’s victory, a mere 36 per cent of total vote cast, was the lowest in the nation’s electioneering history.
While Atiku and the Labour Party candidate, Mr Peter Obi both laid claim to victory at the election, Tinubu was quick to argue that his two major challengers’ decision to part ways and contest on different platforms swayed victory his way.
Tinubu, it would be recalled, obtained a stay of magistrate judge’s order for a full disclosure of his Chicago State University academic records, stressing that doing so would cause severe harm to his life.
“There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers said in their full briefing to the court seeking a review of Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s order by Ms Maldonado, a district judge.
The identity of who was admitted into Chicago State University in the 1970s has been a hot issue even as Atiku’s Director of Research and Strategy, Don Pedro Obaseki insists that the Bola Tinubu who graduated from CSU was a female.
Whereas Mr Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Victor Henderson and Christopher Carmichael, insisted that the documents Atiku is seeking are inadmissible at the Supreme Court, they are not ruling out the possibility of a full disclosure which could expose their principal to the “harm” he fears.
Mr Gilbert’s ruling last week required CSU administrators to confirm under oath whether or not the certificate Mr Tinubu tendered in Nigeria was genuine. Additionally, the officials were mandated to show a certificate issued to a CSU graduate in 1979, with the person’s identification redacted, and to also turn over communications relating to a letter the school issued to Mr Tinubu in 2022.
Mr Tinubu feared that allowing the deposition of CSU officials to go forward could inflict severe, irreparable damage to his life, adding that Atiku was only on a fishing expedition to Fuel online conspiracy theories.
“The Magistrate Judge clearly erred in granting the application for discovery and concluding that Chicago State University must respond to the document and deposition subpoenas.
“Even if a narrow subset of information can be considered ‘for use’ in the foreign proceeding, that is limited to the diploma submitted to INEC. Fishing expeditions into other documents and more document productions must be precluded,” Tinubu lawyers said.
In today’s affidavit, a man, who identified himself as Olajide Adeniji claimed he attended CSU at the same time with Tinubu, adding that they were both at the institution for study between 1977 to 1979.