Chicago State University has given a condition to release the academic record of President Bola Tinubu.
Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, had filed an application for Tinubu, his main rival’s academic record.
The PDP presidential flagbearer had approached a US court at the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, for an order compelling the university to release Tinubu’s academic records.
Atiku had through his counsel, Angela M. Liu, sought Tinubu’s records, including those of his admission and acceptance at the university, dates of attendance, including degrees, awards and honours attained by the Nigerian President at the university, among others.
Atiku had informed the court that the subpoena was to test the truth and veracity of Tinubu’s assertions, adding that he is currently the President of Nigeria and is facing various court proceedings concerning his election and the authenticity of documents relating to his attendance at Chicago State University.”
But the university, in its reaction in a document, said it does not “understand” why Tinubu’s academic records “could possibly have any bearing on a 2023 election challenge in a foreign country”.
It, however, said once an order is granted by a court in the United States , Tinubu’s academic record would be made public.
The document reads: “Pursuant to this Court’s Order dated August 9, 2023 (Doc. 15), Respondent Chicago State University (the “University), for its response to the 28 U.S.C. 1782 Application filed herein by Atiku Abubakar (“Abubakar), states and submits as follows:
“The University Defers to Intervener Tinubu Concerning Privacy and Relevance Issues.
“Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, graduated from the University in 1979. One of his political opponents, Abubakar, socks discovery from the University of Tinubu’s student records and information about the dates and circumstances certain diplomas were issued by the University, asserting such discovery is pertinent to a Nigerian proceeding challenging Tinubu’s election earlier this year.
“The student records Abubakar seeks from the University via a documents subpoena (Doc.1-1) and the information Abubakar seeks the University to provide pursuant to a deposition subpoena (Dec. 1-2) concem Tinubu’s private educational records. But since Tinubu has intervened to oppose this discovery, the University defers to Tinubu on the privacy issues implicated by Abubakar’s Application.
“Similarly, the University defers to Tinubu on whether any of the discovery information sought here is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. 41782, including whether it is relevant to the pending Nigerian proceeding.
“The University struggles to understand how-given that Tinubu did in fact graduate from the University in 1979-Tinubu’s grades and other student records from the 1970s and date and signatory information on subsequently issued ceremonial diplomas could possibly have any bearing on a 2023 election challenge in a foreign country.
“But the University is admittedly not familiar with the issues in the Nigerian proceeding or the evidentiary and other legal principles applicable therein. Accordingly, the University defers to Tinubu-who obviously is familiar with these issues and directly involved in that foreign proceeding-to advance procedural and relevancy objections to the Application.
“In a recent conference with Abubakar’s counsel about the Application, Abubakar’s counsel confirmed that the evidentiary phase of the Nigerian proceeding has concluded, but that the information sought in the Application might be introduced in appellate proceedings to come.
“The University respectfully requests that this Court, in ruling on the Application, scrutinize both the actual status of the Nigerian proceeding and the likelihood that any discovery information provided by the University would in fact be considered in the Nigerian proceeding.
“The University Reserves Objections to the Scope of the Discovery Sought by Abubakar. Finally, in the event the Court determines to allow any discovery to proceed here, the University urges the Court to direct only limited, targeted discovery on the University.
“As leave to issue any discovery has not yet been granted, and the Court’s views on what if any discovery is appropriate here under 28 U.S.C. $1782 are not yet known, it is premature for the University to raise objections to the scope of the documents and information sought in Abubakar’s subpoenas.
“But without limiting further objections, which the University expressly reserves, the University notes that the scope and relevancy of certain of Abubakar’s requests are clearly inappropriate. For example, Abubakar’s document subpoena Request No. 5 seeks information on diplomas issued by the University for a 44-year period (1979 to the present), and Abubakar’s deposition subpoena Topic No. 7 seeks information on the employment status and reasons for departure of a former employee in the University’s General Counsel’s Office.
“Following this Court’s ruling on the Application, should any discovery be permitted, the University will meet and confer promptly and in good faith with Abubakar’s counsel to attempt to address all the University’s concerns.”
Earlier, Tinubu had filed a motion to quash subpoena before the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chicago, USA.