Chicago State University Denounces Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s Certificate as Forged

In a stunning development, Chicago State University has officially declared that Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu presented a forged degree certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he filed his candidacy paperwork in June 2022. This revelation, based on the university’s testimony, has the potential to severely impact the embattled leader’s position.

The denunciation of Mr. Tinubu’s certificate took place during a deposition of school officials in Chicago. While an expanded transcript of the session is pending, what has emerged is of utmost importance to Nigerians—the school’s characterization of Mr. Tinubu’s certificate under oath and the penalty of perjury.

Caleb Westberg, Chicago State University’s registrar, disclosed that the certificate presented by Mr. Tinubu, dated June 22, 1979, and submitted to INEC on June 17, 2022, was not issued by the university. Furthermore, Mr. Westberg confirmed that Mr. Tinubu neither applied for a replacement certificate nor received one.

This development marks a significant victory for Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Tinubu’s primary political rival, who had sought clarification from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago regarding the authenticity of the certificate. Federal district judge Nancy Maldonado granted access to all documents related to Mr. Tinubu and facilitated depositions by a legal team representing Mr. Abubakar.

Mr. Tinubu had vigorously opposed this legal maneuver, fearing its consequences. His lawyers warned of “severe, irreparable harm” should the documents and depositions be released. Chicago State University had previously claimed Mr. Tinubu as its student, but the inability to authenticate the certificate has cast a shadow over his academic history.

In a previous incident in 1999, Mr. Tinubu had falsely claimed a degree from the University of Chicago during his gubernatorial run in Lagos. However, he escaped accountability due to his election before the deception was uncovered. Subsequently, he changed his claim to attending Chicago State University.

The implications of this revelation are grave for Mr. Tinubu. Nigeria’s constitution, specifically Section 137 (1)(j), prohibits the election of a president who has presented a forged certificate to INEC.

The evidence obtained from Chicago State University, along with the deposition and other materials collected through the U.S. legal system, will be submitted to the Nigerian Supreme Court. A final decision on the presidential election challenge is expected on or before December 6, 2023.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the acceptance of this new material by the Supreme Court remains uncertain, as it typically rejects new evidence not previously argued during the initial trial. Mr. Abubakar has acknowledged the challenge but remains hopeful of its acceptance.

Previously, Mr. Abubakar’s petition was dismissed by the Court of Appeal for being too weak to overturn Mr. Tinubu’s election. The release of Mr. Tinubu’s CSU records and deposition details, as mandated by Ms. Maldonado’s judgement, now awaits the scrutiny of the Nigerian Supreme Court.

Mr. Abubakar initiated this action under Section 1782, a statute permitting the U.S. to provide records “for use in a proceeding before a foreign tribunal.” This development adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing legal battle surrounding Nigeria’s presidency.