The Chicago State University on Monday released the academic records of President Bola Tinubu following an order of a United States District Court in Northern Illinois.
The next day, 3 October, the registrar of the university, Caleb Westberg, made a deposition at the court, giving further details on the documents which the court ordered should be released to Atiku Abubakar, a top opponent of Mr Tinubu during the 25 February presidential election.
PREMIUM TIMES has now obtained the certified copy of the deposition which captured hours-long intense questioning of Mr Westberg by Atiku’s legal team.
Atiku had requested Mr Tinubu’s CSU academic records for use in Nigerian court to prove that the president forged the CSU certificate he submitted to Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, to participate in the February election.
He argues that by allegedly submitting a forged certificate to INEC, Mr Tinubu was not qualified to contest the election.
But the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, where Atiku filed his petition to challenge Mr Tinubu’s election, in its judgement delivered in September, dismissed the forgery allegation, among other issues he and other opposition candidates raised concerning the poll as unproven.
Displeased with the judgement, the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate promptly lodged an appeal against it at the Supreme Court, where he now hopes to present the CSU documents as evidence of forgery against Mr Tinubu.
The release of the documents, which have gone viral online, inflamed controversies touching on Mr Tinubu’s education at CSU, the true identity of the owner of the CSU degree he lay claims to, and the authenticity of the certificate he submitted to INEC, among others.
There were speculations that Mr Tinubu used the results of another person, named Bola A. Tinubu, identified as a female, to gain admission to CSU.
But in the 125-page deposition, Mr Westberg, the university’s registrar, was clear that Mr Tinubu, the Nigerian president, indeed attended the school from August 1977 to June 1979.
“He was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with Honors on June 22, 1979. His major was accounting,” reads a letter he had written on the matter, which he again confirmed when it was read out to him while making the deposition on Tuesday.
He also confirmed the identity of Mr Tinubu, the current Nigerian president, as the one who graduated as stated in the records under reference.
He was pressed on many occasions on this issue, facing a flood of questions framed in different wordings during the deposition.
“We did go over this. Given the holistic review of the record, we do believe it to be the president of Nigeria,” Mr Westberg said on one occasion in response to the repeatedly asked question.
To further test his conviction about the claim, he was asked if he had ever met Mr Tinubu, if Mr Tinubu had ever visited the CSU campus or if Mr Tinubu had ever donated to the school. His answers to the questions were all in the negative.
“So apart from the official transcript, CSU has no other basis for stating that Bola A. Tinubu who attended CSU is the same Bola A. Tinubu that is now president of Nigeria?” he was further pressed for an answer.
In response, Mr Westberg said, “Chicago State University has the official record of Bola A. Tinubu, and we believe that to be 19· ·true and authentic.”
On whether the initial, “A”, that stands for the middle name in Bola A. Tinubu in CSU records meant “Ahmed”, the president’s known middle name, the university registrar said, “The legal name for Bola A. Tinubu is sufficient for the university to determine the student identity. The middle name is not required for us to do that.”
But Mr Westberg disowned the copy of the certificate, referred to as diploma in American parlance, which Mr Tinubu submitted to INEC.
Initially, he said, “We were not qualified to verify whether this document is authentic, given that it is not in our possession.”
He was later asked if the diploma he earlier said was provided to Bola A. Tinubu, referred to “the one that was issued to the student in 1979, and in answering, he responded, “Correct “.
The examiner from Atiku’s legal team further asked, “And the diploma that was provided to the student Tinubu in 1979 can’t be the one that President Tinubu submitted to INEC because Dr. Daniel did not arrive at CSU until later?”
The CSU’s lawyer objected to the question which he said “calls for speculation”. But Mr Westberg went on to answer “That’s correct.”
culled from Premium Times Nigeria