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The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has ordered Chicago State University to release the credentials of President Bola Tinubu.

In a memorandum opinion and order issued by Nancy Maldonado, the judge, the court overruled Tinubu’s objections to the application filed by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, seeking the release of the president’s record with the university.

Ms Maldonado, a district judge, also said the CSU should turn over the records to Mr Abubakar by 12:00 p.m. Monday and also make its officials available for deposition to authenticate the documents by 5:00 p.m. on the same day.

The judge said any attempt by Mr Tinubu to appeal the judgement in the district would no longer be tolerated as Mr Abubakar must transfer the collected evidence to the Nigerian Supreme Court for use in an ongoing election petition case by October 5.

“CSU is directed to produce all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to Requests for Production Nos. 1 through 4 (as narrowed by Judge Gilbert and adopted here) in Mr. Abubakar’s subpoena, by 12:00 p.m. (noon) CDT, on Monday, October 2, 2023,” she added. “The Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of CSU’s corporate designee must be completed by 5:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. Given the October 5, 2023, filing deadline before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court will not extend or modify these deadlines.”

The judge, however, said Mr Tinubu is free to file his appeal directly before the Seventh Circuit, which is the main appellate court overseeing Illinois and nearby states, an attempt that would likely prove daunting given the tight window for compliance by CSU.

The ruling marks a major blow to Mr Tinubu and a huge victory for Mr Abubakar, who has been seeking the records to establish that Mr Tinubu presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission when he submitted his application to run for president in June 2022.

Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution (amended in 2010) specifically stated that no one would be legitimately elected president of Nigeria if the person “has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

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