President Bola Tinubu has prayed a United States federal judge not to direct release of his academic records to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, saying “There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma.”

His lawyers also told the court that Tinubu’s records “were illegally obtained previously and have been utilized to attack him.”

In court filing obtained by CITY LAWYER, Tinubu however pleaded with Judge Nancy Maldonado to block all details about him except the diploma certificate. The objection was titled “INTERVENOR’S OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S RULING ON THE APPLICICATION FOR DISCOVERY UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1782.”

Tinubu’s lawyers argued that “Intervenor, Bola A. Tinubu, requests that the ruling by the Magistrate Judge, ordering Chicago State University to comply with document and depositions subpoenas proposed by the Applicant be set aside for two principal reasons. First, the discovery sought is not “for use” in the Nigerian election proceedings and the Nigerian courts have explicitly been unreceptive to the discovery.”

They argued further that the discovery sought, “with one narrow” exception, is not “for use” in the Nigerian election proceedings “and is unduly intrusive because it allows Applicant to conduct a fishing expedition into Intervenor’s private, confidential, and protected educational records.”

Tinubu’s prayers on Monday morning came as part of the ongoing legal battle unfolding at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Referring to Atiku’s claims in his election petition that “[Tinubu] has demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended . . . ; his State of origin, gender; actual name; certificates evidencing Universities attended (Chicago State University),” Tinubu’s lawyers wrote: “The assertions in the reply mirror conspiracy theories offered by Nigerian political news blogs that were used to support the Application.”

They argued that “, if the Court views the effect of the Magistrate Judge’s as a non-dispositive and the clearly erroneous standard applies, Intervenor submits that the Magistrate clearly erred in ordering compliance with the proposed subpoenas.”

Saying Atiku is foreclosed from submitting any further evidence on the matter at the Supreme Court, Tinubu’s lawyers stated that “as the Nigerian Election Court wrote in its decision, the evidence sought is inadmissible. (See Dkt. 34, pg. 556.) Because the information was missing from and had to be in the original petition, Applicant has no ability to submit anything further.”

Hinting that Atiku is bent on a “fishing expedition” which intrudes into Tinubu’s privacy, the lawyers stated that “the relevant issue is whether the CSU diploma provided by Intervenor is authentic or a forgery. Applicant’s discovery, however, goes far beyond that issue and strays into conspiracy theories offered on the Internet. A single deposition topic will suffice to answer this question, and it is arguably unnecessary based on both the affidavit of CSU’s registrar and CSU’s court filing.”

Stating that the Magistrate earlier determined that Atiku’s interest “outweighs the privacy interest because Invervnor (sic) put the diploma at issue by submitting it to the INEC,” the lawyers argued that “There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma. Intervenor’s records were illegally obtained previously and have been utilized to attack him.”

They stated that ” The unlawful release of documents previously allowed Intervenor’s opponents to sow confusion and spread conspiracy theories. Applicant should not be permitted to conduct discovery on the discovery illegally obtained by Applicant’s allies and Intervenor’s political opponents.”  Tinubu’s lawyers include Victor Henderson, Christopher Carmichael and Oluwole Afolabi.

The case was brought by Abubakar in his bid to establish that Tinubu was not eligible to be Nigerian president despite his election in February 2023.

The identity of who was admitted into Chicago State University in the 1970s has been a hot issue after college transcripts emerged that indicated the school admitted a female Bola Tinubu from Southwest College Chicago in 1977.

Magistrate Gilbert has ruled last week that CSU administrators should confirm under oath whether or not the certificate Tinubu tendered in Nigeria was genuine. The officials were also directed 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 Tinubu in 2022.

A man who identified himself as Olajide Adeniji also submitted an affidavit saying he attended school with Tinubu from 1977 to 1979. 


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