A lawyer representing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed concern over the bid by President Bola Tinubu to block release of his academic records at the University of Chicago.

Atiku, a presidential candidate during the February poll, is asking a federal court to issue a subpoena for Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s school records but the Nigerian leader is fighting to block the application, according to court filings.

“We continue to be puzzled by Mr. Tinubu’s vigorous opposition to our asking CSU about documents that are already in the public domain and/or have already been submitted in the Nigerian proceedings so that we can learn CSU’s position on whether, how, and when they were provided to other Nigerian litigants, and CSU’s position on the authenticity of the documents,” Atiku’s lawyer Liu Angela wrote in an email to the lawyers representing Tinubu and Chicago university on August 3.

The CSU registrar’s office had told The Gazette that it graduated a Bola Tinubu on June 22, 1979, but did not elaborate when pressed on whether the student was a male or female, much less if it is the same person now occupying Nigeria’s presidency.

“If there is an explanation for the discrepancies we have identified, we would think that Mr Tinubu would be eager to provide it. If you would like to provide an explanation to us, we are happy to consider it. That might preclude the need for, or at least expedite the deposition,” Angela said, suggesting a willingness to cooperate with Tinubu’s legal team to shut down controversies surrounding the president’s credentials. “In candour, the vehemence of Mr. Tinubu’s opposition to this discovery is increasing rather than mitigating our suspicions.”

Angela explained that Tinubu had been advised — in writing — to join the case earlier since the applicant would not oppose the request but that he chose to remain silent and waited until Atiku had submitted an ‘Order Directing Discovery’ of his academic records in court before expressing an interest in joining the suit. He then headed to the State District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to apply to join.

“At the outset, Applicant emphasizes that he does not oppose the Motion, but questions why Mr Tinubu filed it, instead of contacting and coordinating with Applicant’s counsel to submit a joint submission,” Angela wrote in her response to Tinubu’s motion to join on August 4.

“Thus, on July 27, 2023, almost a week prior to filing the application, counsel for applicant advised counsel for Mr Tinubu and CSU that applicant intended to file the application and that he was willing to stipulate to Mr. Tinubu’s intervention in the Section 1782 federal action,” Atiku’s lawyer told the court.

One of Atiku’s prayers at the Presidential Election Petition Court is that Tinubu should be disqualified for falsifying his academic records. Tinubu denies the allegation. The Presidential Election Petition Court has reserved judgment on Atiku’s case.

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