*Timi Frank’s words to America, Tinubu revisited
The Chicago State University (CSU) has reportedly released a statement to confirm that President Bola Tinubu was once its student.
It, however, declined to make further information public about the records, especially regarding details Nigeria’s Peoples Democratic Party’s Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar seeks to back up his claim in court that Tinubu’s claim of having a degree certificate from the American university is shrouded in ambiguity.
A statement said to have been issued by the University to CBS News on Thursday also revealed that Tinubu graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree.
The report was coming 24 hours after reports emerged that the university’s lawyers had told the court that they were unaware of the certificate Tinubu submitted to the country’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) while expressing his intention to run for office in the Febrtary 25, 2023 General elections.
The DEFENDER’s enquiry to a media aide of the Nigerian president to confirm his knowledge of the court sittingearlier in the week and, if yes, give the reaction of his principal, was yet to beresponded to.
In the latest report, the university confirmed a request for Tinubu’s academic records exists as it reportedly said, “As an educational institution, we are sometimes asked to provide information related to student records.”
It, however, explained that there is a federal law, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, which protects the privacy of student records and limits what an institution can make public.
“In August 2023, a request was made to the U.S. federal court for the university to provide information related to educational records concerning Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, and a former CSU student.
“The university has confirmed Tinubu attended CSU and graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree. Federal law, however, prevents us from providing any further information without consent or unless allowed to do so via court order.
“CSU is confident in the veracity and integrity of our records regarding Tinubu’s completion of graduation requirements and degree certificate. The university is not a party to the Nigerian legal proceedings that spurred this request, and a U.S. federal judge will determine whether the university will provide further requested information.
“Our response to the request for Tinubu’s academic records has been entirely consistent with our practices, policies and federal law. We would respond in exactly the same manner for any request for any student information by a third party,” the statement reads.
We also earlier in the week reported that the US federal court had decided to fast-track hearing on the Atiku’s application before it, to get the CSU release detailed records of Tinubu, which he seeks to enable him back up his appeal at the Supreme Court here in Nigeria, against September 6 ruling of Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal affirming Tinubu’s election victory.
It is not clear what the decision of the US court will be considering the law cited by the Chicako State University, which it claims holds it back from releasing the requested records unless on the order of court.
It will be recalled that former Deputy National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria, Mr. Timi Frank, while countering Tinubu’s move to block the US court from directing the release of his results, had called on the government of United States of to live up to its own law that states no holdback to Freedom of information (FOI).
Frank asked the USA to treat Nigeria as equal partner, while also challenging the American government and its institutions to cause Tinubu’s certificates in Chicago State University to be released to a court in Nigeria in the spirit of reciprocity and freedom of information obtainable in that country.
Also ULMWP Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, Frank made the call in a statement in Abuja and copy of which was obtained by The DEFENDER on Wednesday August 9, 2023 while also insisting that Tinubu, as a public servant, ought not to seek to stop his academic records from being made public in a law court.
Recall that Tinubu had filed a motion seeking to prevent a United States Federal Court from releasing his university academic records to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as requested by the latter.
Timi Frank lamented that the United States is playing double standards where actions and requests that are taken seriously in their country become the reverse when it concerns to an African country like Nigeria.
He said: “Barely two days after former Vice President ans Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) approached the State District Court for the Northern District of Illinois subpoenaed the Chicago State University to release the records of Tinubu, it is rather shocking that the President has countered the request by filling a counter motion to restrain the Court from releasing his academic records to the petitioner.
“What seems to be more worrisome is the idea that a sitting President who had sworn to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the Presidential office, would attempt to muzzle an independent judiciary of the United States through acts of coercion or frivolous motions unknown to the Justice department.
“However, it is noteworthy to reiterate that the Justice system of the United States isn’t one that is amenable to coercion, intimidation, subjugation or any other form of compromise as demonstrated clearly from recent events concerning the former President of the US (Donald Trump) who is being made to answer various charges concerning his conduct while in office.
“This is the very reason we believe the US court must throw out your (Tinubu’s) appeal and give your academic information to Nigeria,” Timi Frank had said.
He added that, “The US must not be seen to protect any high profile Nigerian or any Nigerian that is holding public office. That is their duty, to do the right thing the same way they are doing the right thing in America.
“In America, can you do this to your taxpayers? When taxpayers in America demand for any information, including that of a sitting president, it will be provided because they know that a public officer in America, is answerable to the citizens.
“But why are they promoting and supporting public office holders in Nigeria like the incumbent president who’s unwilling to be answerable to the Nigerian people as if the interest of Tinubu is greater than the interest of Nigerian people?”
“Therefore, the argument in his motion that the records should not be released because they fall under a 1974 privacy law for American students has shown clearly that there’s more to the identity of the individual who’s currently the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all must be done by the US in ensuring that the real identity of the President is revealed with the demand for his academic credentials whilst in Illinois.
“We hold the US in good faith and will expect that everything concerning this matter is finally put to rest when the University is finally subpoenaed. We’re glad that a Federal judge has been assigned to the case, and we expect a full dispensation of justice under the US Justice system in this regard,” Timi Frank had said about Tinubu US government in August.