An order directing Chicago State University to provide the academic records of President Bola Tinubu to the legal team of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has been Delayed by United States District Judge Nancy Maldonado .
After the president’s attorneys filed an emergency motion to delay the self-effectuating order requiring the CSU to abide by Atiku’s subpoenas until Monday, the hearing was called late Thursday night.
According to The PUNCH, a magistrate named Jeffrey Gilbert had on Tuesday mandated that Tinubu’s alma mater give the applicant, Atiku, access to all pertinent and non-privileged documents within two days.
Through his attorney, Angela Liu, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate is requesting documents related to the former governor of Lagos State’s academic achievements, including his record of admission and acceptance at the university, dates of attendance, and degrees and honors received at the institution.
However, the president’s legal representatives had argued that a district judge should review Gilbert’s earlier ruling.
Coordinator of Tinubu Presidential Legal Team, Babatunde Ogala, revealed that what they sought was a review and not an appeal as was being peddled in the media during a phone chat with The PUNCH from his base in the United States.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria emphasized that the US magistrate does not have the authority to order the university to release non-privileged information, adding that he can only make a recommendation to do so. This served to further support his argument.
“As I am talking to you, I am in America and on top of this matter. Our people are just making issues out of nothing. What did the magistrate do? I think we need to understand the American procedure. The magistrate is to make a recommendation to the district judge and not to give a final order. No, he cannot. He has no such power. And that is what we are saying to the district judge. They are to make a recommendation, which must be within 48 hours.
“In anyway, what is the issue here? Whatever you said you wanted, the court said ‘release non-privileged’. After all, they have confirmed that the man attended their school, and got his letter of admission as well as first, second, third, and fourth semester results. They have admitted it is their certificate, and you (court) are now coming to say they should release the information. For what exactly? They brought his application for admission.
“What we are even saying is this. We are not filing an appeal but asking for a review against Monday for the judge to pronounce. We are providing the judge with additional information to say the person they have granted this order was granted purportedly because he said that he wants to use it to pursue his litigation in Nigeria. There is nothing to appeal as it does not show anything to suggest that he is bringing anything from America. Is that not fraudulent? That’s our contention,” he said.
Few hours after Ogala spoke with our correspondent, his request for a review and delay of the order till Monday was granted by the US district judge.
In the emergency hearing, Maldonado disclosed that mindful of legal deadlines in Nigeria, she would rule on the matter as quickly as possible.
She said, “I will have a busy weekend. The issue is of process and rules. I’m a rule person. That’s why I’m a judge. This case is quite involved. I am aware of the stakes. It’s more important to me to get this right.”
Meanwhile, the president has departed New York after attending the 78th session of high-level meetings of the UN General Assembly on Thursday where he also addressed world leaders on the relevance of democracy, stressing that military coups are wrong.
Tinubu arrived at the event in the company of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila.