By Tambaya Julius
In a dramatic turn of events, the legal battle between Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu over the release of academic records has taken a complex twist.
Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar had sought access to President Bola Tinubu’s academic records from the University of Chicago.
However, his efforts encountered a significant setback when Illinois District Court Judge Nancy Maldonado issued a ruling.
While Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois initially ordered the university to release the records by September 21, Tinubu’s legal team promptly filed an appeal through an emergency motion to halt this process.
Their argument centered on the assertion that Magistrate Judge Gilbert had exceeded his authority by issuing the order directly, contending that he should have recommended the decision to the district judge.
Subsequently, they urged the district judge to delay the enforcement of the magistrate judge’s order until September 25.
This would allow ample time for the district judge to scrutinize both the scope of the magistrate’s authority to issue such an order without review and whether the order aligned correctly with the applicable legal principles.
In a surprising turn of events, the motion proved successful.
Consequently, Judge Nancy Maldonado has instructed Tinubu’s lawyers to present comprehensive arguments on Monday, elucidating why and how the release of these documents might have an adverse impact on Tinubu.
The legal saga in the Chicago courts unfolds akin to a strategic chess match, with Tinubu’s legal team adeptly thwarting Atiku’s pursuit of Tinubu’s records at Chicago State University (CSU).
Their objective appears to be to prolong the process, making it challenging for Atiku to incorporate these records into his submissions at the Nigerian Supreme Court.
Atiku had already submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court on September 18 and has until September 28 to make any necessary amendments.
Nevertheless, with the recent court ruling halting CSU’s cooperation, Tinubu’s legal representatives plan to submit their brief by September 25.
According to insider sources, Atiku’s legal team has until 11:59 pm on Wednesday, September 27, to file any objections. Subsequently, Tinubu’s lawyers will prepare a reply, and they have until 11:59 pm on Thursday, September 28, to submit it.
“As the clock ticks, we are approaching another crucial judgment,” revealed an inside source, implying that Atiku may soon run out of time in his quest for Tinubu’s academic records.
During proceedings before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, CSU confirmed that Bola Ahmed Tinubu was indeed a student at their institution and graduated in 1979.
While acknowledging certain discrepancies in the two certificates presented for authentication by Atiku’s lawyers, CSU did not explicitly state whether these documents were forged or authentic.
Furthermore, it clarified that the university does not retain copies of certificates issued to students.
CSU emphasized that it had already provided Tinubu’s academic records, which were submitted as evidence in the Presidential Election Petition Court in Nigeria.
Magistrate Judge Gilbert’s directive merely entailed reissuing these documents to Atiku Abubakar.