President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday presented his academic records before the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja.
Mr Tinubu tendered the academic records obtained from the Chicago State University in the United States of America to counter a suit lodged by Atiku Abubakar challenging his victory as Nigeria’s president.
The electoral commission, INEC, had declared President Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential election, which was held on 25 February.
But Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second in the race, disputed the election outcome.
Subsequently, he filed a petition before the court on 21 March, urging it to overturn Mr Tinubu’s victory because of alleged fraudulent academic and criminal records, among other issues, including electoral malpractices.
He concluded the presentation of his case on 23 June, paving the way for Mr Tinubu, the APC and INEC to open their defence.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, Mr Tinubu’s lead lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, tendered documents to aid the president’s case.
Mr Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), presented academic records from the Chicago State University, where Mr Tinubu graduated.
U.S. Embassy’s letter clears Mr Tinubu of criminal conviction
He also tendered a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, clearing Mr Tinubu of any criminal conviction or arrest in the U.S.
In 2003, the then Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, now deceased, had written to the U.S. Consular General in Lagos, requesting if Mr Tinubu had any criminal record in the U.S.
Mr Balogun’s enquiry was at the behest of the Alliance for Democracy, a political party on whose platform Mr Tinubu sought re-election as governor of Lagos State in 2003.
“The screening committee of the Alliance for Democracy has written to the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, requesting confirmation of any criminal record of conviction to date against Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the United States of America,” Mr Balogun’s letter dated 3 February 2003 read in part.
In a reply to the police’s enquiry, the American Consulate in Lagos said the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National Crimes Information Centre (NCIC) ran a check on Mr Tinubu.
In the reply dated 4 February 2003, a legal attache at the U.S. Consulate, Michael H. Bonner, disclosed, “The results of the checks were negative for any criminal arrest records, wants, or warrants for Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
The NCIC is a centralised information centre that maintains the records of every criminal arrest and conviction within the U.S. and its territories, a copy of the letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES explained.
In furtherance of his quest to debunk allegations of fraud against Mr Tinubu, Mr Olanipekun tendered the immigration documents of Mr Tinubu’s trips to the U.S. between 2011 and 2021.
He said the documents were certified by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
The lawyer also presented the final results of the presidential election, which declared Mr Tinubu president-elect on 1 March.
After tendering tons of documentary evidence, Mr Olanipekun told the five-member panel of the court headed by Haruna Tsammani that a “documentary foundation” had been laid for Mr Tinubu’s case.
“We will continue with oral evidence tomorrow by calling witnesses,” Mr Olanipekun said.
But Atiku’s lawyer, Chris Uche, a SAN, opposed the admissibility of the documents.
Mr Tinubu’s co-respondents – INEC and APC – did not oppose the tendering and admissibility of the papers in evidence.
After admitting the documents in evidence, the court adjourned further hearing until Wednesday.
In the petition challenging Mr Tinubu’s victory, Atiku accused the then president-elect of drugs trafficking and falsification of U.S. academic records and identity.
In the filings, Atiku’s lawyer, Mr Uche, said Mr Tinubu forfeited $460,000 as a ‘compromise agreement’ in the U.S.
Atiku further faulted Mr Tinubu’s victory because he “holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea.”
He accused INEC of fraud and substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution during the conduct of the 25 February election