Tinubu Accused of Presenting Forged Certificate by Chicago State University

by Ikem Emmanuel

President Bola Tinubu has been accused of presenting a forged degree certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during his bid to lead Nigeria in June 2022. This revelation has added a new layer of complexity to the ongoing efforts to unseat the Nigerian leader due to alleged misdeeds from the past.

The damning accusation against Mr. Tinubu emerged during a deposition of school officials in Chicago, where the authenticity of his academic credentials was being examined. Caleb Westberg, the registrar at Chicago State University (CSU), stated under oath that the certificate presented by Mr. Tinubu, dated June 22, 1979, and submitted to INEC on June 17, 2022, was not issued by the school. Furthermore, Mr. Westberg confirmed that Mr. Tinubu had never applied for a replacement certificate nor received one.

This revelation marks a significant victory for Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Tinubu’s political opponent. Atiku had taken the matter to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago to determine the authenticity of Tinubu’s certificate. Federal district judge Nancy Maldonado granted an order for CSU administrators to provide all documents related to Mr. Tinubu and undergo deposition by Mr. Abubakar’s legal team.

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Tinubu fiercely contested the proceedings, fearing the potentially irreversible consequences. His legal team warned that the release of documents and depositions would inflict severe and irreparable harm to the Nigerian president.


While CSU had previously claimed that Tinubu was its student, this revelation raises doubts about the certificate he submitted to INEC and could have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s over 200 million population.

Notably, in 1999, Tinubu had provided false information under oath when he ran for governor of Lagos, falsely claiming to have obtained a degree from the prestigious University of Chicago. However, he avoided accountability as he had already been elected before the deception was discovered, and he did not submit a certificate supporting his claim. Instead, he submitted an affidavit that was later found to be fictitious.

Tinubu later shifted his claim to attending Chicago State University, a historically black institution within the Illinois State University system.

Following this latest revelation, Tinubu’s allies have downplayed the evidence, banking on the school’s acknowledgment that he was indeed a student. They aim to divert attention from how he came to possess a forged certificate.

Despite attempts by Tinubu’s team to misrepresent the situation, the evidence remains compelling. However, its acceptance hinges on the Nigerian Supreme Court, which historically rejects new material that was not part of the initial trial.

This development has thrown Nigerian politics into turmoil, as the constitution explicitly prohibits the submission of a forged certificate to INEC. Section 137 (1)(j) of the Nigerian Constitution renders any such individual ineligible for the presidency.

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The evidence gathered from the school, the deposition, and other materials collected through the U.S. legal system will be submitted to the Nigeria Supreme Court for a final decision on the presidential election challenge by December 6, 2023. While the evidence appears compelling, it must overcome significant legal hurdles at the highest court level.

The political landscape in Nigeria is likely to remain turbulent as this case unfolds, and the nation watches closely to see how the legal system addresses this serious allegation against the sitting president.

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