Following the controversy generated by the academic qualifications he filed in forms submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in 1999, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has continued to suffer the backlash.
But a parliamentary inquest had since cleared him of any case of perjury while an independent investigation by the Punch newspaper established that he indeed graduated from the Chicago State University in the United States.
Tinubu’s academic qualification has been a subject of intense scrutiny since his first filing of required papers in 1998 preparatory for governorship election of 1999.
Conflicting Filings in 1992, 1999 & 2022
While Tinubu had claimed in 1992 when he ran for Lagos West senate election that he attended Richard Daley College of Chicago and Chicago State University graduating in June 1979 with B.Sc Accounting, in his 1999 filing he said he attended University of Chicago and Chicago State University, graduating with a degree in Business and Administration, Accounting from the latter.
However, the Chicago State University letter dated August 20th 1999 addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern, was referenced by his then Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ayobolu, showing that Tinubu indeed attended Chicago State University from August 1977 through June 1979, a period of one year, 10 months (22 months) only.
Meanwhile in his 2022 filings for the 2023 presidential election as the presidential candidate of the APC, he did not state his primary and secondary schools.
He also did not state the name of the university he attended.
However, he stated his academic qualification as “B.SC Business and Administration, 1979.”
Investigation conducted by THE WHISTLER showed that following inconsistencies in his academic qualifications filed with INEC in 1998, and the fallout, which led to petitions and a legal tussle, a motion was moved by Hon Tajudeen Jaiyeola Agoro, representing Lagos Mainland Constituency, for investigation according to the account presented in January by then Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ayobolu, in the
Saturday edition of the Tribune, 2022.
He explained that then Speaker, Adeleke Olorunimbe Mamora, set up a 5-man ad hoc committee on Tuesday, September 21, 1999, to investigate the allegations and report back to the House.
Other members of the committee were Hon. Babajide Omoworare (Chairman), Hon. Thomas Ayodele Fadeyi, Hon. Adeniyi Akinmade, Hon. Ibrahim Gbola Gbabijo and Hon Saliu Olaitan Mustapha.
Quoting the Committee’s report, Ayobolu said, “The Governor of Lagos State started his evidence by admitting ‘full responsibility’ for some of the ‘needless errors’ being pointed at in recent publications and which formed the basis of allegations against him.
“The Governor told the Committee that as a result of the acrimonious primaries of the Alliance for Democracy in Lagos State and its attendant crisis, the information contained in both the INEC form and the affidavit of loss of certificates was supplied by Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi.”
According to him, “The Governor then submitted to the Committee a copy of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) senatorial candidate form dated June 1, 1992, which he used to contest the 1992 Senatorial election as candidate of the party for Lagos West. In the form, which he personally filled, the Governor attached the certificates of Richard Daley College and Chicago State Chicago State University. For his educational qualifications he filled B.SC Accounting only.”
According to the committee report, as cited, “This according to him demonstrated that ‘needless errors’ spotted in the 1999 INEC form were not consistent and that they were ‘genuine errors’.
Quoting the Committee’s final report to read that, “However, we wish to state that the Governor’s inability to clear these issues promptly left the field to numerous aides and well wishers who circulated statements and documents, some of which the Governor claimed were neither from him nor authorized by him. Since the Governor himself accepted responsibilities for the ‘needless errors’ made, and in any event he is responsible for documents signed by him, we strongly advise him to be more careful in ensuring the accuracy of
documents that carry his signature in future”.
Supreme Court Ruling
Following the institution of the case at the Federal High Court in Lagos by late Legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi, the Supreme Court later ruled against any further investigation of Tinubu as a sitting governor, as he was under immunity although the merit and propriety of the case was not looked at.
In the judgement delivered on Friday, the 10th day of May 2002 between Fawehinmi (Appellant) and Inspector General of Police and Two others (Respondents/Cross Appellant), the certified true copy of the ruling which was obtained by our correspondent from Lawyers Online, Justice Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo who delivered the lead judgement relied on Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, which confers immunity on sitting governors and their deputies, president and vice president.
The apex court concurred with the Federal High Court Lagos and the Court of Appeal stating that the police was right not to issue an Order of Mandamus that would have warranted an investigation as conferred on it by Section 4 of the Police Act, Cap. 359, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
The court further ruled that the appellant’s “interest which is above that of the general public” has not “been affected,” by Tinubu’s alleged certificate forgery and age falsification.
In his supportive ruling, Justice Abubakar Bashr Wiali ruled that “investigation of a criminal complaint by the police against any of the office holders mentioned in Section 308 (3) of the 1999 Constitution is not tantamount to laying a criminal complaint before a court. Investigation of a criminal complaint by the police is in my view a preliminary course which may or may not result in a criminal prosecution.”
On his part, Justice Michael Ekundayo Ogundare, ruled that, “The Court of Appeal is clearly right in holding that Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 does not extend to grant to the officers mentioned in subsection (3) thereof immunity from police investigation into allegations of crimes made against them. That court is equally right in holding that police, however, have a discretion whether or not to conduct investigation into any complaint made to them. And the court will not intervene if on the facts of a particular case, the discretion is properly exercised.”
Chicago State University Clearance
Following various requests to find out if Bola Ahmed Tinubu attended its university, the Chicago State University wrote to The Punch in January 2022 confirming he graduated from the university.
The institution wrote that, “Mr Tinubu did attend our university, however, if further information is needed, go to studentclearinghouse.org website to make a formal request.”
The mail response was issued by Beverly Poindexter, who was in charge of official transcript requests, enrolment and degree verification at the Office of the Registrar, CSU.
Calls For Disqualification Get Louder
Even within the APC, there have been calls for Tinubu’s disqualification for alleged inconsistencies in his qualifications.
In the lead up the party’s presidential primary in June, 2022, a member of the party in Kano State, Sagir Mai Iyali, wrote a petition against him to the John Oyegun-led committee seeking Tinubu’s disqualification.
Iyali in a letter dated May 17, 2022, stated that, “From the information contained in prior submissions to INEC, particularly in 1999, Mr. Tinubu presented a false claim, on oath, of his attendance at the University of Chicago from 1972-1976.
“It is clear now that these claims are false. Not only was this filed in the INEC form with a declaration on oath on December 20 1999, it was also contained in an affidavit of loss sworn to before the High Court of Lagos, Ikeja Registry, December 29, 1998.”
But the Oyegun Committee dismissed the petition and went on to clear Tinubu.
On Friday June 25th, 2022, the Action Peoples Party, APP, threatened to drag Tinubu to court on Monday to challenge his academic qualification to stand for the 2023 election.
Chairman of the party, Uche Nnadi, who disclosed this in a statement said that the party had enough facts to nail him.
The party will rely on information he provided in his INEC forms. He said,
“Tinubu’s new forms contradict his 2007 affidavit that he has primary school and secondary. He denied attending Primary and Secondary but claims a university degree in new INEC forms published today.
“He commited perjury as he abandons his earlier claim of attending primary school, sworn in an affidavit to run for governor but now claims not to have attended primary school.
“His new declaration in new INEC forms of not attending primary and secondary school (is) false information, in view of earlier nomination forms of 2007 on oath containing alleged controversial primary and secondary schools he claimed to have,” he stated.