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Tinubu files motion to prevent release of his Chicago university records to Atiku

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has filed a motion through his lawyers seeking to prevent a federal court in the United States from releasing his university academic records to Atiku Abubakar, the opposition candidate challenging his presidential victory at the tribunal.

According to Peoples Gazette, court documents showed that the former Vice President approached the States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to issue a subpoena for Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s school records, citing longstanding controversies around the Nigerian leader’s background.

Atiku told the court he was seeking the documents as part of discovery to strengthen his legal challenge against the declaration of Tinubu as Nigeria’s president after the February 25 election.

But the president’s attorneys asked that Tinubu be added as an interested party in the suit, alleging that Chicago State University might be unable to fully protect his interest as the owner of the records being sought.

“Mr Tinubu should be allowed to join or intervene because he has a direct personal interest in records sought, his interests are not fully represented or protected by Respondent Chicago State University, and his interests will be affected if he is not permitted to join or intervene,” the Nigerian leader argued in his motion to join the suit filed on August 3 and submitted by his Chicago attorney Christopher Carmichael.

“Chicago State University stated that its obligation is satisfied by providing notice of the application and attempt to access the records. Chicago State’s position is that it does not have an obligation to oppose the application and, therefore, CSU does not adequately represent Mr Tinubu’s interests,” the document read.

Consequently, Tinubu argued that the records should not be released because they fell under a 1974 privacy law for American students.

According to the attorneys; “The lawsuit indirectly seeks relief against Mr Tinubu by seeking his records that the federal and state governments have determined should be confidential. See 20 U.S.C. § 1232(g) (describing the purpose of the Federal Educational Records and Privacy Act of 1974 as to protect students from a school’s unauthorized release of a student’s records); 105 ILCS 10/6(a) (prohibiting the release, transfer, disclosure and dissemination of school student records)”.

A federal judge had been assigned to the case, and both parties anticipated its expedited hearing and disposal, especially after Atiku argued that the Nigerian election petitions tribunal would deliver a verdict around September 21, 2023.

Atiku, of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), previously filed a suit before a county court in Chicago, Illinois, but withdrew it in order to file a more comprehensive case at the federal court.

His lawyers revealed that he welcomed President Tinubu’s motion to join the suit, saying he was, in fact, previously told he should feel free to join.