Atiku and Obi Kick as BBC Fact-Check Clears Tinubu of Certificate Forgery
BBC Affirms President’s CSU Diploma Authenticity, Atiku and Obi Face Criticism
In a recent development, the BBC has issued a fact-checking report disputing allegations of diploma forgery against President Bola Tinubu. This report has prompted reactions from political figures, particularly the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi.
The BBC’s Global Disinformation Team, in a report published on Wednesday, revealed that there was no substantial evidence supporting claims that Tinubu had forged his Chicago State University (CSU) diploma, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the February presidential election.
The report by the BBC concluded that the allegation of diploma forgery against Tinubu was unfounded. The Global Disinformation Team stated that they had fact-checked numerous claims related to this issue to reach their conclusion.
The accusation of certificate forgery against Tinubu had sparked controversy, with his political rivals, Atiku and Obi, publicly challenging the authenticity of his academic records after the release of his CSU academic records.
This release of the president’s academic documents resulted from a legal case filed by former Vice President Atiku in August, aimed at overturning Tinubu’s electoral victory at the Supreme Court. Atiku had accused Tinubu of falsifying a CSU diploma in Business Administration, awarded in 1979, which he had submitted to INEC.
In an effort to strengthen his election petition, Atiku sought the assistance of an Illinois, Chicago court to compel CSU to release the President’s academic records, including a copy of the 1979 diploma, the diploma given to Tinubu in 1979, and similar diplomas awarded to other students at the same time. Atiku also demanded documents certified by Jamar Orr, a former staff member of CSU.
Tinubu’s legal team initially opposed Atiku’s application, citing privacy concerns. However, the U.S. court allowed the case to proceed, and CSU subsequently released the academic records. As part of the court’s decision, Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu, questioned CSU’s registrar, Caleb Westberg.
During Westberg’s deposition, the BBC highlighted that Atiku’s lawyer focused on the copy of the diploma Tinubu had submitted to the electoral commission. Although it was suggested that this diploma did not resemble the 1979 diplomas from CSU, Westberg explained that the discrepancy was due to the diploma’s reissue in the 1990s. The CSU diploma template had changed several times over the years, so a diploma reissued in the late 1990s would resemble the format of that era, irrespective of the graduation year.
The BBC also addressed a claim by a Nigerian fact-checking organization that Tinubu’s submitted diploma did not match CSU’s standard as it lacked the phrase “with honors.” The BBC found that the phrase did appear in Tinubu’s diploma issued in the early 2000s, which was authenticated by Westberg during his deposition. This corroborated the details in the diploma Tinubu presented to INEC.
In response to the BBC’s findings, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shaibu, criticized the report as a part of a propaganda program by President Tinubu’s administration. He suggested that the BBC’s investigation was biased and aimed at clearing Tinubu of any wrongdoing.
The report by the BBC has divided opinions among Nigerians, with some supporting its conclusions while others question its methodology and findings. The political debate around this issue continues to evolve as the country’s leaders and citizens scrutinize the authenticity of President Tinubu’s academic credentials.