Chicago State University must turn over documents related to the time Nigerian President Bola Tinubu's spent at the college in the late 1970s
In a significant development, a U.S. federal judge has ruled that Chicago State University (CSU) must provide documents related to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu's academic history at the institution during the late 1970s. This decision comes as CSU finds itself embroiled in a political dispute over the authenticity of Tinubu's diploma, which he presented before Nigeria's national election earlier this year.
Judge Nancy Maldonado of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago affirmed the decision of a lower federal magistrate judge to release the documents. She has set a deadline of Monday, Oct. 2, for CSU to turn over these documents, with depositions of CSU officials to be completed by Oct. 3.
At the heart of this dispute is the claim made by Tinubu's political rival, Atiku Abubakar, who alleges that the documents showing Tinubu's graduation from Chicago State University in 1979 are not genuine. Abubakar contends that this could serve as grounds to nullify Tinubu's election victory.
Chicago State University maintains that it can confirm Tinubu's graduation from the institution. However, it explains that the diploma in question is ceremonial and not a part of a student's official academic record, making it challenging to authenticate.
Abubakar, who finished as the runner-up to Tinubu in February's election, has been contesting the election results in Nigeria's courts. The legal proceedings in Chicago are an integral part of his challenge.
During a recent hearing, CSU attorney Michael Hayes expressed the university's willingness to provide the requested documents once the legal matters are resolved, emphasizing that the institution is impartial in the dispute. Hayes also highlighted the financial strain and negative public image CSU has endured due to its involvement in a foreign political conflict.
Abubakar's requests include an example of a CSU diploma issued in 1979, Tinubu's diploma from the same year, and any CSU diploma matching the font, seal, signatures, and wording of Tinubu's diploma. Additionally, he seeks CSU documents certified and produced by Jamar Orr, an associate general counsel at CSU at the time.