Tinubu’s certificate: Nigeria’s reputation at stake, says Atiku Abubakar

THE presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has called on relevant institutions to address the discrepancies in the certificate submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by President Bola Tinubu.

He said failure to do so put the nation’s image at stake and would give citizens a bad impression before the rest of the world.

He also explained that establishing the credibility of certificates presented by politicians seeking elective offices should not take “months or decades.” 

He stated these during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, October 5.

The former Vice President spoke on the heels of discrepancies in Tinubu’s certificate released by the Chicago State University (CSU) and the copy the President submitted to INEC while contesting for the presidency.

Abubakar, who said the late legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi, inspired his action against Tinubu, highlighted the importance of adhering to the Constitution and abiding by electoral laws to legitimize government. He emphasized the supremacy of the nation’s Constitution.

“Political leadership and active citizenship matter because they are ways through which we all work together to build a country that works for all who live in it. Our country is bigger than any of us, and its standing in the world affects the fate of all who come from or live in it. As leaders, it is our duty to advance the well-being of all our people and the country.”

The ICIR reports that Abubakar had dragged the CSU to court in the United States and asked it to compel the university to release the President’s academic records.

Tinubu’s efforts to block the Adamawa-born politician failed as the US Northern District of Illinois in Chicago ordered the CSU to release the records.

At his media briefing on Thursday, Abubakar commended legal support from Nigeria and the United States in clarifying what he described as long-standing issues and thanked Nigerians for their patience “in seeking truth and clarity.”

“It should not take months or, indeed, decades for the institutions concerned to be able to do their work in establishing the credibility of any certificates presented by candidates for public office. 

“We undertook this journey at great cost and for important reasons,” Abubakar argued, stressing that the quest for truth and accountability was not about any individual but a collective endeavour to foster a just and accountable society. 

Abubakar also called on Labour Party’s presidential candidate Peter Obi, New Nigeria Peoples Party Aliyu Kwankwaso, and other Nigerians to join his quest for “justice” over the matter, adding that “this is a task for every one of us.”

He, however, noted that he would only drop the case if the Supreme Court ruled against his suits, noting that they are already at the Supreme Court.

“I have already filed my appeal against him at the Supreme Court. It is only when the Court rules that he is right that I will drop this fight; in other words, I will drop this fight when the Court rules because there is no court higher than the Supreme Court.”

Answering the technical parts of the questions, one of Abubakar’s lawyers, Kalu Kalu, explained that the Chicago State University (CSU) document sent to his client confirmed that Bola Ahmed Tinubu forged the certificate submitted to INEC.

According to him, the CSU application form claims that Tinubu attended Government College Lagos and graduated in 1970 when the school was established in 1974.

He added, “The same document has it that the owner of that document is a black American and (in) the document Bola Ahmed Tinubu submitted to INEC, he denied having dual citizenship, which means it does not belong to him. Then, the same document, oral deposition, said the A in Bola A Tinubu is Ahmed, but the NYSC certificate Bola Ahmed Tinubu submitted to INEC has Adekunle. I don’t know where Adekunle emerged from.”

The ICIR had earlier reported how Abubakar successfully obtained the release of Tinubu’s education records from the CSU through a court subpoena.

The disclosed documents, initially released on Monday, October 2 and further emphasized in a deposition on Tuesday, October 4, revealed a discrepancy concerning Tinubu’s 1979 CSU certificate. 

    During the sworn testimony, the CSU Registrar also stated that he could not authenticate the certificate presented by Tinubu to INEC.

    But the registrar affirmed that Tinubu graduated from the school.

    Meanwhile, the Presidency has dismissed claims that the certificate Tinubu presented to INEC for the 2023 elections was forged.

    Reacting on Wednesday, October 4, Tinubu’s media aide, Temitope Ajayi, via his X handle, argued that CSU affirmed under oath that Tinubu attended and graduated from the institution and that the school does not handle replacements for lost certificates.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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