Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, has asked the United States court for the Northern District of Illinois, to overrule President Bola Tinubu’s objections to the release of his academic records.
Tinubu had filed an appeal against the order of the court directing the Chicago State University (CSU) to release his academic records to Abubakar.
The president had argued that he ought to have been joined in the suit since it is his personal information that is being sought.
Tinubu had also argued through his lawyers that what Abubakar was doing amounted to a “fishing expedition” because the deadline for the use of fresh documents in Nigerian courts had elapsed.
The court had gone on to delay the order for the release of the records.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS ABOUT APPEAL DEADLINES
Section six of the election judicial proceedings practice directions, 2022, provides that a notice of appeal shall be filed at the registry of the tribunal or court of appeal within 21 days in respect of a final decision, and 14 days in respect of interlocutory rulings.
However, section two of the supreme court election appeals practice directions, 2023, stipulates that an appellant shall file in the registry of the court of appeal, notice and grounds of appeal, within 14 days from the date of delivery of judgment appealed against.
The presidential petition election tribunal delivered its judgment on September 6. That means Atiku had till September 20 to file his appeal — which he did on September 18.
‘DOCUMENTS CAN STILL BE USED IN SUPREME COURT’
However, in a fresh application to the US court dated September 27, Abubakar through his attorneys — Angela Liu, Andrew Levander, Alexandre de Gramont, Tooba Hussain — argued that the documents he is seeking can still be used in election litigation back home in Nigeria.
Abubakar is also asking the court to overrule Tinubu’s objections in their entirety.
“The Court should overrule the objections in their entirety,” the application reads.
“If the Court overrules the Objections, Applicant respectfully requests that it enter an order requiring production of documents no later than October 2, 2023, and the deposition scheduled no later than October 3, to allow time for transcripts to be finalized.”
Abubakar said “the discovery obtained” should “be sent to Nigeria (which is six (6) hours ahead) by October 4 so that such evidence may, in turn, be filed with the Supreme Court by October 5, which is when Applicant’s Nigerian counsel intend to submit any new evidence to the Supreme Court”.
Abubakar also argued that “the Supreme Court of Nigeria can consider new evidence in ‘exceptional circumstances’ under the Nigerian Electoral Act of 2022 and/or in its discretion”.
Tinubu’s credentials show that he graduated from CSU in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management.
However, there have been allegations bordering on discrepancies with Tinubu’s certificate.
In a previous suit filed before the US district court, Abubakar prayed that the court should subpoena Tinubu’s files domiciled with CSU.
In his fresh application, Abubakar reiterated that there are discrepancies with Tinubu’s academic records.
“In addition to the different date, the June 22 diploma is different in numerous respects from the June 27 diploma submitted by Intervenor to INEC,” Abubakar’s application reads.
“The June 22 diploma has a different font and seal and does not have the grammatical error in the June 27 diploma.”