Why Atiku’s Request For President Tinubu’s Academic Records Is Belated – US District Court Member, Oladele

Why Atiku’s Request For President Tinubu’s Academic Records Is Belated – US District Court Member, Oladele

A senior Nigerian-American lawyer, Kayode Oladele, has said the request by the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to obtain the academic records of President Bola Tinubu from the Chicago State University (CSU) is belated.

Oladele, who is a member of the General Bar of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, Illinoi said this in a statement on Friday.

Recall that Atiku had approached the US District Court for an order compelling the CSU to release Tinubu’s academic record following allegations of discrepancies in the certificate the President submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a prerequisite for his participation in the election.

But while reacting to Atiku’s application, Oladele described the legal status of the documents being sought by the PDP presidential candidate as “moot and of no consequence”.

He stated that Atiku’s request to obtain Tinubu’s academic records is belated since his petition challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election had been reserved and adjourned for judgments.

He said “Even if the US Court should rule in favour of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and order the University to release the documents sought, the documents are belated as his petition has been reserved and adjourned for judgments.

”In addition, documents made in the course of proceedings after pleadings have been filed and served are of no evidential value and cannot be admitted. In other words, by virtue of section 91 (3) now section 83 (3) of the Evidence Act, 2011, nothing shall render admissible as evidence any statement made by a person interested at a time when proceedings were pending or anticipated involving a dispute as to any fact which the statement might tend to establish.

“It is therefore clear beyond crystals that whatever documents procured by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar pursuant to his Chicago application are of no evidentiary value at this stage when the hearings have been concluded and judgment has been reserved”.

Oladele contended that “The Chicago State University has not consented to release the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s records which Alhaji Abubakar seeks from the University through a documents subpoena as well as the information he seeks the University to provide pursuant to a deposition subpoena concerning the President’s private educational records.

“Rather, the University is of the opinion that since President Tinubu has intervened to oppose the discovery, the University will defer to President Tinubu on the privacy issues implicated by Alhaji Abubakar’s discovery application.

“The University in its response to Alhaji Abubakar’s application has also decided to defer other issues relating to the application to President Tinubu and this includes whether any of the discovery information sought by Alhaji Abubakar is appropriate pursuant to the US law and whether such information is relevant to Alhaji an Abubakar’s Petition currently pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Nigeria”.

In tracing the brief procedural history of the matter, Oladele said, “According to the docket report, the miscellaneous application together with Attorney declaration and Memorandum in support was filed by Alhaji Abubakar’s lawyers on August 2, 2023.

“The case was immediately assigned to the District Court Judge, Honorable Nancy L. Maldonado on August 3, 2023. The same day, the case was referred to the calendar of Honorable Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert for the purpose of holding proceedings related to the Application for an order directing discovery from Chicago State University.

“Similarly, President Tinubu, through his lawyers, filed a motion to intervene that same day.

“On August 7, 2023, the Court granted Intervenor President Tinubu’s unopposed motion to intervene or join the action. In briefing the motion to intervene, the parties proposed a schedule for President Tinubu to file a response to the Application and for Alhaji Abubakar to reply.

“In light of the referral of the Application to Magistrate Judge Gilbert, the Court also deferred to Judge Gilbert to set a briefing schedule. On August 23, 2023, Respondent Chicago State University filed a response to Alhaji Atiku’s application.

“Intervenor President Tinubu also filed his Response on the same day. That’s the last filing in the Court records and there is no further activity on the matter as far as the docket report is concerned.

“The school in their response filed by Michael Hayes, its counsel to Atiku’s request through subpoena state that ‘the University struggles to understand how – given that Tinubu did 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 have any bearing on a 2023 election challenge in a foreign country’.

“The University further contented that some requests in the application are ‘clearly inappropriate’, adding that the applicant is also seeking the employment details of one of his former employees.

“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.

“The University also objected to the appropriateness and relevance of Alhaji Abubakar’s application and thus expressly reserves its right to object to the scope and relevance of certain of Abubakar’s requests that are clearly inappropriate. The University is therefore, of the opinion that should the Court rules and permits any discovery, the University will meet and confer promptly and in good faith with Abubakar’s counsel to attempt to address all the University’s concerns”.

Oladele’s argument is also sequel to the fact that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal had already completed proceedings on Atiku’s petition against Tinubu’s victory and had closed admission of evidence as the tribunal is expected to announce a date for judgment soon.

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