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Judge Nancy Maldonado of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has placed an immediate stay on the release of President Bola Tinubu’s university records after he pleaded severe and irreparable consequences to his life.
Tinubu, through his lawyers, begged Maldonado, a district judge, that the September 6 order of Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, a magistrate, should be delayed. The judge agreed that the matter might be too severe for Tinubu to bear and granted a stay until further argument on the matter.
‘This needs to be handled with care,” Maldonado said.
The judge gave Tinubu’s lawyers until Monday to file a full brief on the matter before the court. Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers said they would reply to the brief by 11:00 p.m. on the same day.
“I may ultimately adopt the magistrate’s recommendation and allow the discovery to go forward, or I can ask all parties to file briefs afresh,” the judge added.
At issue has been the subpoena application filed by Abubakar seeking to obtain records of Tinubu at Chicago State University, following widespread inconsistencies with the Nigerian president’s academic records already in the public domain.
Abubakar’s application was granted in a judgement issued on Tuesday by Gilbert, who ordered the production of the documents as well as the deposition of the school’s administrators. Abubakar plans to use the records to demonstrate Tinubu’s ineligibility for president, relying on the constitutional section that disqualifies a candidate who submitted a forged certificate to the electoral office INEC.
CSU officials have insisted that Tinubu attended the school, but they they have also said they couldn’t authenticate his certificate under oath because they couldn’t tell where he found it.
Tinubu initially argued that the documents should not be released to Abubakar because they would not be tenable before the Nigerian Supreme Court, where Abubakar now intends to file them as part of his appeal against a tribunal verdict that certified Tinubu’s election on September 6.
Abubakar submitted his appeal to the Supreme Court on September 19, the same day Gilbert ordered CSU to release Tinubu’s records within two days.
But as the 48-hour deadline loomed on Thursday afternoon, Tinubu suddenly approached Maldonado, seeking a delay, and suddenly elevating the desperate situation of the matter to include potential damage to Tinubu’s life.
“Severe and irreparable harm will be done to Bola Tinubu if the records are released,” Tinubu’s lawyer argued at an emergency appeal before Maldonado of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
If the records are released, harm will be done and cannot be taken back to the bottle, Tinubu’s lawyer added during the court hearing that began at 3:00 p.m. via telephone conference and lasted about 40 minutes.