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What Atiku told Supreme Court about Tinubu’s Chicago records (part 1)

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Following the deposition made by Caleb Westberg on behalf of Chicago State University (CSU) on October 03, 2023, disclaiming the certificate presented by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Appellants/Applicants, has approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria holden at Abuja.

The Appellants/Applicants filed a motion in appeal no: SC/CV/935/2023 and petition no: CA/PEPC/05/2023, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu Bola Ahmed and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Respondents.

The Appellants/Applicants, through their Counsel, prayed the Court for an order granting leave to produce and for the Court to receive fresh and/or additional evidence by way of deposition on oath from Chicago State University for use in their appeal.

They also prayed the Court for an order granting leave to produce the certified discovery deposition made by Caleb Westberg on behalf of Chicago State University on October 03, 2023, disclaiming the certificate presented by Tinubu to INEC.

They further prayed the Court to receive the said deposition in evidence as exhibit in the resolution of their appeal.

The grounds for the application are as follows:

  • That Tinubu was not qualified at the time of the election to contest the election as required by section 137(1)(j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
  • Based on facts available to the Appellants/Applicants at the time of filing their Petition, Atiku, through his United States of American lawyers, Alexander de Gramont and Angela M. Liu of the law firm of Dechen LLP of 1900 K Street, NW, Washington DC 20006-1110, unsuccessfully applied to Chicago State University for the release of copies of Tinubu’s academic records.
  • Given the strict privacy laws in the jurisdiction of Chicago State University, the request for the release of the academic records and certificate issued to Tinubu could not be granted without an order of court and for the purpose of use in pending court proceedings.
  • Atiku, through his lawyers, thereupon filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – In RE: Application of Atiku Abubakar for an Order Directing Discovery from Chicago State University Case No. 23-CV-05099 for an order for the production of documents and testimony for use in a proceeding in a foreign court, seeking documents and testimony from Chicago State University concerning the authenticity and origin of documents purporting to be Tinubu’s educational records.
  • Tinubu applied and was joined in the matter as an Intervenor, vehemently opposing the application but on September 19, 2023, the Court issued an order granting the application. Tinubu applied for an emergency stay of the Court Order, claiming that he would suffer irreparable damage and injury if his educational records were released (emphasis ours), which order of stay was granted.
  • On September 30, 2023, the Court overruled Tinubu’s Objections and ordered Chicago State University to produce the documents on October 2, 2023, and to produce a witness for deposition on October 3, 2023. (9). On October 2, 2023, Chicago State University produced the documents pursuant to the Court’s Order.
  • On October 3, 2023, also pursuant to the Court’s Order, Chicago State University provided a witness to give deposition testimony, in which deposition, Chicago State University disclaimed ownership and authorship of the document that Tinubu presented to INEC, purporting to be “Chicago State University certificate” and also disclaimed issuing any replacement certificate to him.
  • The deposition was not in existence or available at the time of filing the Petition or at the hearing of the Petition which, along with its accompanying documents, would have important effect in the resolution of this appeal.
  • The deposition is relevant to this matter, having confirmed that the certificate presented by INEC did not emanate from Chicago State University and that whoever issued the certificate presented by Tinubu did not have the authority of the Chicago State University and that Tinubu himself never applied for any replacement certificate nor was he issued any replacement certificate by the Chicago State University.
  • The deposition is clear and unambiguous, and no further evidence is needed to be adduced on it that could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use at the trial, as the deposition required the commencement of the suit in the United States of America before receiving same. It was not possible to obtain the said evidence before the trial at the Court below.
  • The deposition was made on October 03, 2023 after the conclusion of trial at the Court below and was not available to be tendered at the trial.
  • Presentation of a forged certificate to INEC by a candidate for election to the office of Nigeria’s President is a weighty constitutional matter requiring consideration by the Courts as custodians of the Constitution.
  • The original certified deposition has been forwarded to the Court by a letter addressed to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, adding that it is in the interest of justice for the apex court to exercise discretion and adopt the prayers.

The Appellants/Applicants backed their prayers with an “Affidavit In Support” made by Mr. Uyi Giwa-Osagie, a legal adviser to Atiku.

Mr. Giwa-Osagie, in the Affidavit, said among other things:

  • I depose to this affidavit with the knowledge and consent of the Appellants/Applicants and on their behalf and I am conversant with the facts of this matter.
  • That Atiku Abubakar contested the presidential election conducted by INEC on the 25th day of February 2023, wherein INEC returned Tinubu as the winner of the said election, and the Appellants, dissatisfied with the results, filed a Petition on March 21, 2023, before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
  • That PEPC had by a judgment delivered on 6th September 2023 dismissed the said Petition and the appeal running into over 9,000 pages in 11 Volumes, is the basis upon which the Appellants/Applicants are relying in this application.
  • That Atiku instructed his United States lawyers, the law firm of Dechert LLP, to apply to the Chicago State University for the release of copies of Tinubu’s academic records and certificates for use in the presentation and prosecution of their Petition which challenged his return.
  • That given the strict privacy laws in the jurisdiction of Chicago State University, the request for the release of the academic records and certificate issued to Tinubu could not be granted without an order of court and for use in pending court proceedings, hence the need to obtain Tinubu’s academic records and certificate for the purpose of presentation and prosecution of the election Petition from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – In RE: Application of Atiku Abubakar for an Order Directing Discovery from Chicago State University Case No. 23-CV-05099 for an order for the production of documents and testimony for use in a proceeding in a foreign court seeking documents and testimony from Chicago State University concerning the authenticity and origin of documents purporting to be Tinubu’s educational records and certificate
  • Despite the fact that Tinubu submitted to INEC his “certificate” which he claimed to have obtained from Chicago State University, he vehemently opposed the release of his academic records and the certificate he claimed to have obtained from Chicago State University in support of his qualification to contest the presidential election of 25th February 2023.
  • On September 19, 2023, the Court issued an order granting the application, and thereafter, Tinubu applied for an emergency stay of the Court Order, claiming that he would suffer irreparable damage and injury if his educational records were released (emphasis ours), which order of stay was granted. On September 30. 2023, the Court overruled Tinubu’s objections and ordered Chicago State University to produce the documents on October 2, 2023, and to produce a witness for deposition on October 3, 2023.
  • Chicago State University timely produced the documents pursuant to the Court’s Order and provided a witness to give deposition testimony, in which deposition, Chicago State University disclaimed ownership and authorship of the document that Tinubu presented to INEC, purporting to be “Chicago State University certificate”.
  • The deposition, which would have an important effect in the resolution of this appeal, was not in existence or available at the time of filing the Petition and is credible and believable, and ought to be believed.
  • The deposition is clear and unambiguous and no further evidence is needed to be adduced on it.

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