In a much-awaited ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Maldanado on September 30 ordered Chicago State University CSU to release the academic records of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu by Monday October 2, 2023 noon (6 p.m. Lagos time). The ruling puts an end to weeks of saga about the President’s academic record. His political opponents have said the diploma he forwarded to a Nigerian election board was fake. Having firsthand knowledge of the situation, jcoydenreports.com last week wrote an article that pointed to several inconsistencies about the diploma that was admitted into evidence, primarily the signatures of Dr. Elnora Daniel and Dr. Niva Lubin, neither of whom were working at CSU in 1979.
Judge Maldonado wrote in her ruling summary the following:
“The court overrules President Tinubu’s objections and adopts Judge Gilbert’s recommended decision in full. The Court therefore grants Abubakar’s application Under 28 United States Code 1782. In reaching this conclusion, the Court emphasises that it is expressing no view on the merits of Abubakar’s underlying claims regarding President Tinubu or his graduation from CSU, or on the validity of the Nigerian election. Nor is the Court taking any position on what any of the documents or testimony from CSU may or may not ultimately show. The Court simply finds, on the narrow question before it, that Abubakar is entitled to the production of documents and testimony that he seeks from CSU. Respondent CSU is directed to produce all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to Requests for Production … by 12:00 p.m. (noon) CDT on Monday, October 2, 2023.”
Reaction to Maldonado’s judgement was swift, with many saying while this is an embarrassing moment for Nigeria, it is the start of moving things forward for the West African nation that has a population of 213 million.
“I welcome the recently delivered judgement of the US District Court ordering the release of Tinubu’s records by tomorrow,” said Washington D.C. based Attorney Emmanuel Ogebe of the Justice for Jos Project. “This is how things work in really independent countries. Courts are not coercive instruments of colonial mentality, the politically connected or the powerful. If they could indict their immediate past president on 91 counts and jail three successive governors of Illinois then you know they’re serious.”
While the ruling may be a step in the right direction for Nigeria, the country still faces many huge obstacles before it can become a world power. Despite its access to oil, minerals and other goods the world needs, Americans are leery about Nigeria due to human rights violations, the attack on journalists who are forced to flee and live in exile and the number of citizens facing hunger after the COVID pandemic just to name a few.
Americans are also enraged with the blatant lawlessness that has continued with kidnappings, political killings and the rapes of women that have occurred across the nation. The United States’ frustration with crime in Nigeria was highlighted in 2014 by then First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama after Boko Haram, kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. That incident alone, along with continuous reports of violence against women and girls is possibly keeping millions of dollars of potential revenue from American tourism out of Nigeria. President Tinubu has been unable to stop the carnage and has yet to release his safety and security plan for his country.
As of September 20th, of this year, the U.S. State Department has placed Nigeria at Level 3: Reconsider Travel status, the second highest level possible, placing it only behind places like Russia, Iran and North Korea that are Level 4.
Last month when President Tinubu spoke before the United Nations, most of the diplomats from other countries were not in attendance. As a potential sign of the country’s current feelings towards the Nigerian leadership, the White House did not extend an invitation for Tinubu to meet with President Joe Biden, while Tinubu was in the country. However, Biden did send a representative to Nigeria to attend Tinubu’s inauguration earlier this year.
The current issue of his academic records is now put into the hands of the courts in Nigeria to decide. According to Ogebe, the case could be heard by the country’s highest court or it could be sent down to a lower court. The high court in Nigeria had issued an October 5th deadline to hear any arguments from Tinubu’s challengers.
Equally important this week will be what CSU officials will say when they are questioned during a deposition by Abubakar’s attorneys. The deposition will take place sometime on Tuesday October 3rd in Chicago, Illinois. The private deposition will allow lawyers for Abubakar to ask some pointed questions of CSU officials, one being the possibility that someone inside the University is responsible for the false diploma Tinubu produced.
“It should be noted that 75 percent of Tinubu’s academic claims have been disproven as bogus by Tinubu himself in two contradictory INEC forms,” Ogebe said. “CSU is the last one. He should happily allow the records release to prove he is not a total fraud.”
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Many Nigerians were concerned that Tinubu was going to attempt to delay the proceedings here in the United States. Judge Maldonado quickly squashed the possibility of that happening, as the only thing left to debate is the Jollof derby.
“That the court gave a Monday 2nd October 2023 deadline warning that any request for stay of this judgement from Tinubu will be denied shows how abuse of court process is not tolerated,” Ogebe said. “Note that this is a U.S. Federal District Court, the equivalent of our Federal High Court saying they will NOT stay their own judgement for Tinubu’s sake. Nigerian Courts should begin to desist from allowing losing parties to stop their own judgments and let appellate courts decide on stays.”