Nigerians, this coming week, will be faced with an unprecedented legal battle over the academic records of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Chicago State University (CSU).
Recall that US District Judge Nancy Maldonado had on Thursday agreed to stay an order directing Chicago State University to make Tinubu’s academic document available to the legal team of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Earlier, a magistrate, Jeffrey Gilbert, had on Tuesday ordered Tinubu’s alma mater to provide all relevant and non-privileged documents to the applicant, Atiku, within two days.
But Tinubu’s lawyers approached Maldonado, arguing that the earlier decision by Gilbert needed to be reviewed by a district judge.
No Place To Hide
Speaking to Saturday PUNCH, Atiku’s media adviser, Paul Ibe, said the President should not hide anything.
According to him, Atiku’s camp would wait for the court process while whatever was hidden would unfold.
Ibe said, “What is in that file if it is released that would bring harm that is irreparable to him (Tinubu)? It has become important for Bola Tinubu to let Nigerians know what he is hiding in his academic record at Chicago University.
“We cannot mortgage the destiny of over 200 million people for the interest of one individual. He is bringing embarrassment to Nigeria; it is shameful, and it is a tragedy to have something as simple as releasing your records to be subject to public scrutiny.
“Nigerians should begin to take an interest in this matter. Nigerians should be asking questions about what is going on. Why should the President of Nigeria not be a product of due process, transparency, and accountability? It has never reached this low, and it is unfortunate. We will get him.
“We will await the court process. They can only stall, but finally, whatever it is that is being hidden will be released.”
The Earlier, The Better
On its part, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has urged President Tinubu to approve the release of his academic records.
The party’s new National Publicity Secretary, Yakubu Shemdam, said this would douse the growing tension and suspicion of his critics.
He warned that the certificate scandal could distract the President if allowed to get out of hand.
“As a party, we have been following the drama. But, of course, we are not part of the people who filed an application to demand his records from Chicago University.
“But we think that if he has nothing to hide, definitely he should do the needful by allowing the people who requested those records to have access to them, especially now that the US judiciary is already involved in the matter.
“The earlier they do this, the better so that the President can continue to focus on the developmental plans he has for Nigerians. This is because what is happening now is causing a lot of distraction in the country. Many people are beginning to agitate and question the motion being filed to stop the release of the documents. There is a saying that a clear conscience fears no accusation,” he said.
Tinubu’s Excuse Unacceptable
The campaign team of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, said the President needed to present his academic records to prove his critics wrong, stressing that his excuse for holding on to the result was unacceptable.
The Chief Spokesman of Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, told The PUNCH, “Can you imagine the President stating in the motion he filed that releasing the result could cause him irreparable harm? You begin to wonder what that was supposed to mean. It is very sad.
“If I am a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University who has my records intact and I know they are clean, why do I have to stop the university from releasing my result? It will assist me if ABU quickly issues it so that I can get out of this particular accusation. What this simply means is that the President has something to hide. The learned judge that they are attempting to blame acted according to his power.
“What the Chicago State University said was that it can only act on an order from the court to release the result. Why is the President not interested in having it published if truly he attended that particular school? This will further make the people more inquisitive to find out exactly what that result contains. If there is nothing to hide, they should publish it so that everybody can go and rest.”
‘Let Them Do Plan C’
However, the Coordinator of the Tinubu Presidential Legal Team, Babatunde Ogala, said the team members were ready for Atiku’s next move ahead of Monday’s Court hearing.
He said, “We submitted our application, and the order has been suspended. We are starting all over again.
“If they like, let them do a Plan C. We are not sleeping either. We will meet them there.
“Instead of recommending to the judge, the magistrate was ruling, which he has no power to do. We told the judge, and he agreed. So the whole process of what he has done was set aside.”
He, however, refused to speak on whether the President is hiding something from Nigerians.
“There is nothing new to say beyond what you have. We will wait till next week,” he said.