Hide my Chicago university records to prevent Nigerian bloggers from tarnishing my image, Tinubu tells U.S. court
Mr Tinubu’s murky past has been weaponised to destroy his reputation, his lawyers said.
According to Mr Tinubu, previous records the school released in 2022 to Nigerian lawyer Mike Enahoro-Ebah have been turned into weapons by “bloggers to attack” his character.
“If the purpose of the application is to uncover ‘opposition research’ or provide fodder fornews bloggers, then it is not proper,” asserted Mr Tinubu through his team of attorneys led by Oluwole Afolabi and Chicago-based Charles Carmichael on August 23 in response to the application filed by Atiku Abubakar, a major contender at the February 25 presidential election in Nigeria.
“In politics, opposition research (also called oppo research) is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers explained.
Mr Abubakar had asked the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to subpoena CSU into releasing Mr Tinubu’s records in order to clarify glaring inconsistencies in his gender, graduation date, age and so on but the president is fighting desperately to block the application.
While responding to a previous subpoena in 2022, CSU had provided Mr Ebah with records that showed a certain Bola Tinubu, born March 29, 1954, who attended the school at the same period as Mr Tinubu claimed in the 1970s, was a female. He also recently expunged his primary and secondary education from his records after it was discovered that the primary and secondary 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 school papers Mr Tinubu submitted to CSU before he was admitted to study there.
CSU’s response was first published on independent journalist David Hundeyin’s website in 2022 where bloggers picked it up and circulated it to almost every Nigerian. The gender controversy dominated social platforms like Twitter, now called X, where majority questioned the eligibility of Mr Tinubu to run for presidency and raised concerns on the allegation of perjury.
“Those proceedings centre around a self-proclaimed Nigerian ‘public interest litigator’ who utilised a Chicago law firm to unilaterally (without court approval) issue a subpoena to Chicago State University “to test the truth and veracity of Mr Tinubu’s assertions . . . that he attended various educational institutions located in the Chicagoland Area,” said the president’s lawyers.
“Chicago State University then purportedly provided documents in response. Those documents have apparently been utilised by the public interest litigator and bloggers to attack President Tinubu’s character,” the lawyers pointed out, fearing the same fate awaits the release of the Nigerian leader’s records to Mr Abubakar.
Mr Abubakar said he intends to use findings from CSU to strengthen his argument at the presidential elections petitions tribunal in Nigeria that Mr Tinubu’s declaration as president by INEC should be nullified based on damning allegations of perjury, narcotics dealing, electoral fraud and so on.