Barely two weeks after the Presidential election court gave a judgment that glossed over the myriads of vexing questions dogging the dubious identity and qualifications of Senator Bola Tinubu, all eyes are now on the judiciary in America which ordered the release of his school records within 48 hours.
Sen Tinubu sets the unenviable record of being the first Nigerian (or possibly only world ruler) who’s identity was under litigation in the very country he was visiting on official state function.
He has no footprint of existence anywhere before a community college in Chicago Southwest Community College. He has no secondary school, and no primary school (after the ones he first claimed were found fake) and just mysteriously originated in a community college in Chicago. Now, what is even more interesting is that his first certificate identifies him as female. In other words, the Bola A. Tinubu certificate in the gender column identifies him as female.
The second thing about this fellow is that the Nigerian EFCC wrote to the US Embassy to investigate him and to confirm whether he truly attended Chicago State University. The United States Embassy replied, in a letter signed by the FBI legal attache at the embassy, saying that they investigated and Chicago State University had “no record” of him. This is after he initially lied that he attended the more prestigious University of Chicago then said it was Chicago State University.
So the only document that we know is credible and true about this man is a US court judgment where he forfeited half a million dollars to the United States on account of drug money laundering.
A US court has just ordered CSU to provide some of the records this week. If this man stole the identity of somebody, the danger of granting sovereign immunity to an individual who has been known to be associated with drug money laundering is that he can fly into the United States of America with a presidential jet, and nobody can go on that plane and search it.
The United States cannot, nor can Nigeria afford to have somebody with such a questionable antecedent to be president of the USA’s largest trade partner in Africa and one of its biggest security partners on the continent.
Tinubu’s profile is:
Name – False (claimed and disproven)
Parentage – False (claimed and disproven)
Primary school – Fake (claimed and disclaimed)
Secondary school – Fake (claimed and disclaimed)
Community college – doubtful
University (University of Chicago) – False (claimed and disproven)
University (Chicago State University) – doubtful (claimed certificate proven fake)
US District Court Money Laundering forfeiture – True
National Youth Service – Doubtful (claimed and disclaimed)
Sadly the failure of Nigeria’s legal system to deal adequately with these troubling recurring concerns over the years has invited the ignominious public spectacle that while Sen Tinubu is at the world’s UN centre stage, a Chicago court is digging into his antecedents.
Ironically, Tinubu went to India when the Nigerian court ruled on his election and was in the US when the Chicago court ruled on his records.
It is noteworthy that the US Court did not use technicalities to frustrate the case of the Applicant Abubakar Atiku. The court said, Tinubu “contends that the discovery Applicant seeks is not relevant to the Nigerian Proceedings because issues regarding his educational background were not referenced specifically in Applicant’s Petition filed with the Court of Appeal. See Intervenor’s Response [ECF No. 21], at 5-6 (citing [ECF No. 5-2]). Those matters instead were raised in Applicant’s reply materials filed in support of the Petition. As addressed further below, the Nigerian Court of Appeal declined to consider issues related to Intervenor’s educational background that had not been included in Applicant’s Petition but rather were belatedly raised for the first time in Applicant’s
(Page 9 Case: 1:23-cv-05099)
See September 6, 2023 Judgment in the Presidential Election Petition Court (“Nigerian Court of Appeal Decision”) [ECF No. 34], at 545-558, 606, 608-09.3
Applicant responds that in his intended appeal of the Nigerian Court of Appeal Decision, the Supreme Court of Nigeria can consider new evidence in “exceptional circumstances” under the Nigerian Electoral Act of 2022 and/or in its discretion, and he provides a declaration to that effect from his counsel in the Nigerian Proceedings. Applicant’s Reply [ECF No. 22], at 10; Uwais Decl. [ECF No. 24], at ¶12 & Ex. G. Applicant further argues that whether the Supreme Court of Nigeria actually would consider any evidence obtained through discovery in this case is irrelevant to the “for use” analysis because the statute does not impose a foreign admissibility requirement. Applicant’s Reply [ECF No. 22], at 7.”
Furthermore the US discussed the impact of the Nigerian presidential election court’s judgment on Atiku’s records request in its footnotes and concluded that the Nigerian court’s refusal to admit evidence of forged certificate did not prevent the U.S. Court from releasing Tinubu’s records,
“3 Applicant’s Petition in the Nigerian Proceedings generally raised the argument that Intervenor “was at the time of the Election not qualified to contest the Election,” but apparently without the addition of supporting facts or evidence. See Applicant’s Reply [ECF No. 22], at 3-4 (citing Declaration of Angela Liu In Support of the Application (“First Liu Decl.”) [ECF No. 5], Ex. B, Petition in Abubakar et al. v. INEC et al., at ¶16(d); see also [ECF No. 5], Ex. B at ¶146. Applicant submitted a declaration from one of his attorneys in the Nigerian Proceedings attesting that arguments and evidence about the authenticity of Intervenor’s diploma were submitted by Applicant in those Proceedings. Uwais Decl. [ECF No. 24], at ¶4. In addition, that declaration also states that a related case (brought by Peter Obi and the Nigerian Labour Party) raised questions about additional documents related to Intervenor’s educational background (the Orr Documents), and that Mr. Obi’s case has been consolidated with Applicant’s proceeding. Uwais Decl. [ECF No. 24], at ¶6. The Court notes the Nigerian Court of Appeal Decision declined to consider that evidence and the underlying argument that Intervenor was not qualified to participate in the Nigerian election because the argument was raised for the first time in reply filings rather than in the initial Petition. [ECF No. 34], at 545-558, 606, 608-09. The Court understands Applicant intends to appeal that Decision, and as discussed below, Applicant submitted evidence in support of his argument that there is a mechanism by which new evidence could be presented to the Supreme Court.”
As James Baldwin said, “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
It is disconcerting that observers have more confidence in the US Judiciary than the Nigerian judiciary in the resolution of this issue although it is addressing but one of nine questions bedeviling the embattled politician.
Ironically Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert showed more concern and seriousness in resolving the case and providing evidence in aid of the Nigerian courts than the Nigerian court was.
While the election tribunal in Kano that famously rejected bribes declared the petitioner successful after invalidating 165,000 unstamped/unsigned/undated ballots, Tinubu won at the Court of Appeal with blank ballot sheets showing internal capacity for justice and injustice simultaneously.
Until the Nigerian judiciary shows sustained track record for equitable dispensation of justice, it will continue to be the dashed hope of the common man and our dirty laundry will air in courts abroad.
•Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq, is a prominent US-based international human rights lawyer and Nigerian pro-democracy advocate with the US NIGERIA LAW GROUP in Washington.