HomePoliticsAtiku Is Chasing Shadows - Tinubu's Lawyer

Atiku Is Chasing Shadows – Tinubu’s Lawyer

President Tinubu’s Chicago lawyer, Wole Afolabi, has said Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, was chasing shadows by trying to prove that President Bola Tinubu never attended Chicago State University (CSU).

Clarifying the deposition in Chicago in an interview on Television Continental (TVC) on October 5, Adolabi said: “The wrong information was planted out there that President Tinubu did not attend CSU and someone sold that to Atiku, and on that premise, he approached the High Court in Chicago, through his lawyers, asking that the record be released to him that he had it on good authority that he (Tinubu) did not attend university.

“The CSU, through its registrar, deposed to an affidavit wherein it was stated that not only did President Tinubu attend CSU, but he also graduated with honors in a very rigorous major, Accounting, where he was one of its best students. No wonder, he was hired directly out of college.

“So, confronted with this information and being reluctant to beat a retreat, they pivoted and went in the direction that the certificates that he (Tinubu) presented to INEC were forged.

“Now, the university came out and said this is their characteristic. (For diplomas) what is important to them and many universities in America is transcripts.

“It is in the transcript that you see the grades, the courses that he took, and everything related to the students, all you need to know about the students basically. But, the diploma is merely ceremonial.

“So, the university said the practice is that once you give it out (diplomas), they don’t retain copies. So, having given out the version that the president submitted to INEC, they did not have it in their possession.

“Now, at some point, the president requested for a replacement of the diploma as some students do. It was prepared, but the president did not go back to pick it up. The registrar was asked why he did not pick it up or it was not sent to him, and he correctly answered, ‘Why don’t you ask him? I’m not in a position to answer that.”

Afolabi stated that Atiku’s camp failed to realize that in America, students sometimes apply for diplomas and do not pick them up. “You can have as many diplomas as you want if you want to apply for it. All you have to do is to pay for it. Like in the president’s case, there were other students who applied for the diplomas and didn’t pick them up. And this is what the school made available to Atiku’s lawyers for comparison. Social media is awash with all of these documents. If you take a look at what was issued to the president and some of the samples that the university filed, you’ll see the similarities; they are very similar. Honestly, with all sense of responsibility, this doesn’t make any sense.”

Afolabi also shed more light on the use of the phrase “irreparable harm” in court in defense of Tinubu’s opposition to the release of his academic documents from the varsity, insisting there was nothing sinister about it, but just legalese.

Explaining, Afolabi said: “That was a lawyer’s language, that’s legalese. Any lawyer that you speak to who is a practitioner will tell you that when you approach the court of law to get an interlocutory relief; that is after someone gets a judgment rule against you and wants to appeal, you can go to the court and say you want a stay of execution.

“It is actually one of the things you have to satisfy to convince the court that look, your honour, if you go ahead and allow this document to be released now, irreparable harm would have been done. What does that mean in everyday language? It means once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back.“

Now, we contested based on the Federal Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA). A student is entitled to protection; a student’s records are entitled to protection. That was what we maintained. I have three kids here, one has graduated from college and two are still in college; I don’t have access to their records. I can’t go to their registrar and say hey, I’m paying their tuition, turn these things over to me.

“So, we maintained that under FERPA, the president is entitled to privacy of his records, unless he elects to release them. So, the magistrate, Judge Gilbert, having ordered that the documents be released within 48 hours, was just a few hours away from reaching the time frame. So, we went to Judge MacDonald and said ‘Your honour, put a stop to the execution of this order, because if you don’t and these records are released, then they’ll be nothing for you to review anymore.’

“That was all that we meant by that. Not irreparable harm by being shot or being killed. No, it’s a legal term. If you’re asking for a stay, you have to demonstrate that if this order is not granted, there’ll be nothing for you to review and the judge listened to us and granted that order. The judge agreed with us.”

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