The Supreme Court has firmly placed the onus on Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party flag bearer in the recent presidential election, to substantiate the claim of certificate forgery against President Bola Tinubu.
The directive was issued during the hearing of election petition appeals that also involved Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
Allegations of Certificate Forgery
Atiku’s allegations revolve around the Chicago State University, CSU diploma in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, purportedly awarded to Tinubu in 1979.
He sought a court order from an Illinois Chicago district court to make CSU reveal the President’s academic records.
The emphasis of Atiku’s petition was to ascertain the authenticity of the diploma Tinubu presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
US Court’s Role
Despite Tinubu’s legal team opposing the release of comprehensive academic records due to privacy concerns, a US court directed the release of Tinubu’s academic documentation. This move was cited as significant evidence by Atiku’s team.
In the Supreme Court
During the Supreme Court proceedings, Chris Uche, SAN, Atiku’s lead counsel, emphasised the gravity of the certificate issue and requested that Tinubu’s CSU records be admitted as fresh evidence.
However, Justice John Okoro underscored that since the matter was criminal in nature, it necessitated proof “beyond reasonable doubt.”
The Supreme Court panel highlighted conflicting letters from CSU, with one corroborating and the other negating the authenticity of the President’s certificate.
Justice Emmanuel Agim pointed out that the evidence Atiku intended to provide was created in the chambers of his lawyer, not in the courtroom, raising concerns about its credibility.
Countering the statement, Atiku’s counsel asserted that the documents were generated in the presence of Tinubu’s US legal team.
On the other hand, Akin Olujinmi, the counsel to the All Progressives Congress, held that the documents should not be admitted at this juncture, especially since they weren’t presented at the initial tribunal hearing.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Wole Olanipekun, the President’s lawyer, implored the court to decline the newly presented records.
What you need to know
The Supreme Court panel, featuring other members such as Uwani Aji, Mohammed Garba, and Ibrahim Saulawa, has reserved its judgment on the matter.
Judgment was also reserved on an appeal by the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, challenging the legitimacy of Tinubu’s election. All involved parties eagerly await the court’s final decision.
Abdul Samad Rabiu’s journey to becoming one of Africa’s wealthiest magnates is…