Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last presidential election, has responded to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s assertion that he cannot prevent the release of his academic records from Chicago State University (CSU) by invoking privacy laws.
Atiku, in his reply to Tinubu’s objection to the order issued by Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, maintained that Tinubu’s objection lacked merit and was incompetent.
The former Vice President argued that all the objections raised by Tinubu against the execution of the magistrate court’s lawful order had been addressed by Justice Gilbert after hearing both parties.
Recalling that on September 19, the court had ruled in favor of Atiku’s application for discovery, outweighing Tinubu’s plea for privacy protection under the law.
Tinubu had cited various grounds for denying Atiku’s request, including privacy concerns and U.S. law regarding the disclosure of academic records. However, Justice Gilbert pointed out the merit in Atiku’s case, which pertains to Tinubu’s eligibility for the 2023 presidential election, which he won.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Tinubu had requested a Federal High Court, presided over by Judge Nancy Maldonado, to postpone the enforcement of the order until September 25, when he would formally submit his objection.
During Monday’s proceedings, Tinubu argued that the order violated his right to privacy and breached U.S. law regarding the release of academic records. He specifically claimed that what Atiku sought was intrusive, as educational records are private and protected under the Federal Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA).
In response, Atiku argued that the law of privacy invoked by Tinubu to prevent the release of his academic records was not relevant or tenable in this case. Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu, emphasized that FERPA and similar state laws do not establish an independent privilege for educational records and cannot be used as a shield against a court-issued subpoena.
Atiku further pointed out that Tinubu could not assert protection when he had already placed his educational records in question. He mentioned that Tinubu’s records had been introduced into Nigerian proceedings, including by Tinubu himself, and widely publicized in the media.
Asserting the need for Tinubu’s disputed academic records to be released, Atiku noted that a mechanism exists in the Supreme Court of Nigeria to admit fresh evidence, citing Supreme Court Order 2, which outlines the procedure for presenting additional evidence.
In conclusion, Atiku requested that the objections be overruled entirely and that an order be issued for the production of documents by October 2, 2023, and a deposition scheduled by October 3. This timeline would allow for the evidence obtained through discovery to be sent to Nigeria and submitted to the Supreme Court by October 5, in accordance with the intentions of Atiku’s Nigerian counsel.
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