The Supreme Court has raised concerns about the conflicting information regarding President Bola Tinubu’s academic certificate, originating from Chicago State University (CSU).
During the recent hearing of the appeal filed by Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Justice John Okoro, who leads the 7-member panel, revealed the existence of two contradictory letters from CSU before the court.
It’s important to note that on September 6, 2023, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal had dismissed the appeals of both Atiku and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
Subsequently, Atiku took his case to the highest court, seeking to present additional evidence to support his allegations of certificate forgery against President Tinubu. Atiku’s aim was to obtain President Tinubu’s academic records from Chicago State University to substantiate his claims that the president had submitted forged documents to INEC.
However, the release of these documents occurred after the expiration of the 180-day statutory period within which an election petition should be filed and resolved. Atiku contended that his appeal should still be considered, given the seriousness of the allegations.
In opposition, President Tinubu argued that granting this request would amount to an abuse of the court process. Atiku’s argument was grounded in the belief that the presentation of forged documents by a candidate, especially one vying for the highest office in the nation, is a grave constitutional matter that must not be ignored.
On the other hand, President Tinubu maintained that this issue falls under pre-election matters, among other arguments, and urged the court to deny Atiku’s application.
Atiku countered, stating that issues of merit should not be decided upon at the interlocutory stage and emphasized that the submission of a forged certificate should lead to a candidate’s permanent disqualification, regardless of when it was presented.
During the recent appeal hearing, Justice Okoro highlighted the need to prove criminal matters beyond a reasonable doubt. He pointed out a significant challenge in this case, stating, “But in this case, there are two conflicting letters from CSU – one authenticating the president’s certificate and another discrediting it. Which do we rely on?”