President Bola Tinubu has blamed a clerk at Chicago State University for being responsible in the irregularities that characterised a certificate the school reprinted in his name, according to new court filings.
The Peoples Gazette reports that the Nigerian president claimed the unnamed clerk “unfortunately” made the errors as to the dates the school stated on his recently-issued certificate and when he actually graduated, thereby creating “the appearance of differences.”
Mr Tinubu’s statement was filed on August 23 by his counsel as part of his argument before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. Judge Jeffrey Gilbert had given the Nigerian politician until August 23 to explain why his academic records at CSU should not be released to his political opponent Atiku Abubakar.
Mr Abubakar, earlier this month, requested court approval to subpoena Mr Tinubu’s files domiciled with CSU because he believed the documents would clarify glaring inconsistencies in Mr Tinubu’s background, including publicly-available documents that suggested the CSU in the 1970s admitted a female student bearing Bola Tinubu who was born on March 29, 1954.
The Nigerian president said he was born on March 29, 1952, although he had also, at different times, listed 1954 as his birth year in the past. He also recently expunged his primary and secondary education from his records after it was discovered that the schools he listed under oath in his 1999 run for Lagos governor did not exist anywhere in Nigeria. Mr Abubakar believed the requested records would show which early and high papers Mr Tinubu submitted to CSU before he was admitted to study accounting there.
Mr Abubakar had sued to obtain Mr Tinubu’s school records under a U.S. statute that allows documents available in the U.S. to be subpoenaed for use as evidence in a foreign court.
Mr Abubakar argued that Mr Tinubu had presented contradictory claims in Nigeria and the CSU, in responding to a previous subpoena, had issued documents that contradicted what Mr Tinubu had entered under oath in Nigeria.
Mr Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Carmichael, argued that the August 2022 subpoena that was issued following a request by a Nigerian lawyer Mike Enahoro-Ebah was “illegal” because he had no valid grounds to seek the documents, especially under education privacy rights. The lawyers, nonetheless, admitted the documents indeed emanated from the CSU, but an unnamed clerk had mistakenly typed the graduation date.
“Unfortunately, in responding to the illegal and invalid subpoena, CSU made several errors,” Mr Tinubu’s attorneys said. “CSU issued a new diploma for Bola A. Tinubu, but incorrectly wrote the date of graduation as June 27, 1979.”