In a significant development in the ongoing legal battle at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, President Bola Tinubu has agreed to release his university certificate to his political rival, Atiku Abubakar.
This decision marks a turning point in the dispute, which revolves around Tinubu’s eligibility for the Nigerian presidency despite his victory in the February 2023 election.
Atiku Abubakar initiated the case, challenging Tinubu’s eligibility for the presidency. Tinubu emerged as the victor in the election with a narrow 36% margin after Atiku Abubakar and his former running mate, Peter Obi, split their potential votes, creating an opening for Tinubu’s victory.
Tinubu’s consent to release his certificate comes after he narrowly avoided full disclosure on September 21 by citing concerns for his safety, leading to a stay of a magistrate judge’s order issued on September 19. His legal team argued that there would be harm in allowing the discovery of documents beyond the diploma.
The controversy surrounding the admission records of Chicago State University (CSU) in the 1970s has been a focal point of the case. College transcripts indicated the admission of a female Bola Tinubu from Southwest College Chicago in 1977. Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Victor Henderson and Christopher Carmichael, contended that the documents sought by Atiku Abubakar would not be admissible at the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, they provided an alternative direction to the judge, requesting only an order for CSU to certify Tinubu’s election certificate.
A previous ruling by Judge Jeffrey Gilbert mandated CSU administrators to confirm the authenticity of the certificate Tinubu presented in Nigeria. They were also required to provide a redacted certificate issued to a CSU graduate in 1979 and disclose communications related to a letter the school issued to Mr. Tinubu in 2022.
Tinubu expressed concerns that allowing the deposition of CSU officials to proceed could result in severe and irreparable damage to his life. He argued that Atiku Abubakar’s actions were merely a fishing expedition to promote online conspiracy theories.
In the latest filing, an individual named Olajide Adeniji submitted an affidavit, asserting that he attended school with Mr. Tinubu from 1977 to 1979.