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Tinubu, CSU, Integrity crisis, the dilemmas and section 137 of the 1999 constitution

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By Law Mefor

With the release of his academic records by Chicago State University (CSU), the identity crisis that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has created for nearly three decades since he started his journey in public life and aspiring for political office is mercifully coming to an end. The papers that have been seen so far don’t look good. The educational records are indeed replete with very unpleasant information, as predicted by his lawyers in their appeal against the release of the documents.

The September 6 order requiring the handover of his academic records to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was delayed for a potential vacation. President Tinubu told the appeal court that the harm he would suffer would be impossible to remedy. Bola Tinubu’s attorneys stated during an urgent appeal before Judge Nancy Maldonado of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago that “severe and irreparable harm will be done to Bola Tinubu if the records are released.” Those were his lawyers’ words and true, are they?

Before calculating the irreparable damage the lawyers have feared now that it has come to pass against Tinubu as well as against Nigerians who are the citizens of the country he presides over; let’s take a moment to explore the disclosures about Tinubu from the CSU Documents. News sources both in favour of and against Tinubu are selectively reporting the documents that Chicago State University handed over to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

The official records from Chicago State University’s Office of the Registrar proved that Bola A. Tinubu studied there “from August 1977 through June 1979” and was “awarded a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Honours on June 22, 1979.” Additionally, the registrar swore under oath to this. In America, lying on oath carries a potentially severe penalty of up to a 10-year prison sentence.

The papers rested the question of whether Tinubu attended Chicago State University and received a degree from there. He did. So why is he so alarmed about making his findings public to allude to irreparable damage should that happen? Maybe for the following reasons: the CSU certificate, which Tinubu submitted to INEC, differs from certificates the university issued in 1979 and later, showing that what he submitted didn’t originate from the Chicago State University.

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He presented a result that was not likely generated by Chicago State University, even though he did legitimately graduate from CSU in 1979. This indicates that the decision was made to fake the document rather than apply for a replacement. A substitute certificate from CSU costs around $20. However, after completing the Order Form for a replacement, it takes 10 weeks to obtain it. The pressure of time may have encouraged cheating the system and doing it the Nigerian way, which is known as “Oluwole” in local slang, referring to a fake.

More damaging information has come to light also, raising the question of who owns the Southwest College transcript that Tinubu used to enroll at Chicago State University. It is a female’s. Can a university make a mistake like that regarding a student’s gender? The president will stand also accused of identity theft if the university maintains the claim that the student they admitted was a female.

Many claim that Tinubu, who was said to have been born Lamidi Amoda (a Yoruba Muslim variant of Abdulhamid Ahmed) Sangodele in Iragbiji, Osun State, took the identity of a female Bola Adekunle Tinubu to travel to America. This will also be proved in days ahead.

The “F” on Tinubu’s Southwest College transcript may not be a clerical error, even though his admission letter to Chicago State University, dated August 23, 1977, was addressed to “Mr. Tinubu,” not Ms. or Miss Tinubu.

In addition, Bola A. Tinubu submitted a 1970 GCE A-level result to Southwest College when he enrolled for an associate’s degree and claimed to have attended Government College in Lagos. The issue is that the Lagos Government College was founded in 1974. Some see a problem with the chronology there, which again points to forgery that needs to be proven.

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The GCE A-level results also reveal that “Bola A. Tinubu” sat the exam while enrolled in the HSC, which was then a two-year programme following five years of secondary schooling. In other words, the certificate holder must have completed secondary school no later than 1968.

The GCE A-level result’s authenticity and ownership are now unknown. It may or may not belong to the person who is now known as President Bola A. Tinubu. While Tinubu claims to have been born on March 29, 1952, his CSU transcript states that he was born on March 29, 1954. It meant he would have been 14 years old if he had been born in 1954, which was impossible even today let alone in the 60s.

Now the crux of the matter: Tinubu provided INEC with only the CSU certificate. Since a result is constitutionally required, the question is: what will the Supreme Court rely to address Tinubu’s educational qualification for the presidential election if the CSU certificate is adjudged fake, Tinubu has failed to submit a certificate.

According to the Constitution, a candidate must provide proof of his secondary education. The CSU credential Tinubu provided as proof must pass integrity test, or Tinubu’s election will be standing on nothing, since without a certificate, INEC has no other way to determine if someone has completed secondary education.

Those who are spinning this out of context have to make Nigerians aware of any other way INEC can objectively assess a candidate’s educational qualification without a certificate. There is no ambiguity in this assertion.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are the prerequisites to qualify to run for the office of the resident under the 1999 Constitution: They are at least 35 years old (40 before 2018); they belong to and are supported by a political party; and they have completed schooling at least as high as the School Certificate level or an equivalent.

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The word ‘certificate’ is included in the constitution as well. It is therefore not up to INEC’s discretion under the constitution to assume that a candidate is educated up to secondary without ascertainable proof.

A certificate’s inconsistency alone can render the candidate ineligible at face value. But it is the details of the under oath deposition, in which university officials will be questioned about the credentials Tinubu flaunts, are what one thinks will hammer the last nail in the coffin.

If done correctly, it will elicit precise language from the University that will demonstrate that Tinubu’s claims are false. If the deposition is conducted well, no Nigerian judge will be able to dispute such specific statement made by the university if indicted Tinubu and claimed the certificate were false despite attending the university.

The Supreme Court is not likely to allow Tinubu’s gender identity or identity as a man or woman. The Supreme Court may not be discussing whether or not he attended secondary school or primary school since he did not include those certificates. What is at issue here is whether the result he submitted is authentic or forged. If forged, the foundation upon which his election was erected collapses.

If Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to INEC, it is bound to be addressed by the Supreme Court and with specific regards to Section 137(1)(j) of the Constitution, 1999:

“137. (1) A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if –

(j) he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission”.

Very interesting days ahead.

Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; drlawmefor@gmail.com; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.

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