The legal team representing Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has taken action to challenge President Bola Tinubu’s request for Chicago State University (CSU) not to release certain privileged documents from his academic records.
Phrank Shaibu, the Special Adviser to Atiku on Public Communications, revealed that the legal team had a 48-hour window to respond to this motion in the US court.
Atiku had previously obtained an order from a magistrate, Jeffrey Gilbert, requiring CSU to provide access to President Tinubu’s academic records to his legal team. This request was made in the context of Atiku’s challenge to the victory of the former Lagos State governor in the 2023 presidential election, as well as his recent affirmation by an election petition court in Nigeria.
The documents Atiku’s team sought from CSU, through his counsel Angela Liu, included records related to Tinubu’s admission and acceptance at the university, dates of attendance, degrees earned, awards received, and any honours bestowed upon him during his time at the university.
As the deadline set by Gilbert approached, Tinubu’s legal representatives approached United States District Judge Nancy Maldonado, requesting a review of the earlier decision by Gilbert and a delay of the order until the following Monday. This request was granted by the US district judge.
Tinubu’s application, filed by his lawyers Oluwole Afolabi and Christopher Charmichael, presented two key reasons. Firstly, it argued that the academic records in question would not be useful in Nigerian courts, as they have not been receptive to such discovery in Nigerian election proceedings. Secondly, it claimed that Atiku’s request was overly intrusive, allowing for a fishing expedition into private, confidential, and protected educational records.
When questioned about whether Atiku had filed the suit as previously mentioned on Monday, Phrank Shaibu confirmed that the former vice president would submit the motion before midnight. Regarding the timeline for the court’s ruling, he explained that it would be determined after their response, with the court fixing a date and informing the parties involved.
When contacted for a response, Babatunde Ogala, the Coordinator of Tinubu’s Presidential Legal Team, declined to comment, citing that he was on vacation.