By Ishaya Ibrahim
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has cleared President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of certificate forgery, saying there is no evidence to support the claim.
The report authored by three persons bearing names that reflect Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups – Chiagozie Nwonwu (Igbo), Fauziyya Tukur (Hausa) and Olaronke Alo (Yoruba), is titled: Bola Tinubu diploma: No evidence Nigeria’s president forged college record.
The report, the BBC listed three issues pertaining to Tinubu’s certificate. The first was his June 27, 1979 diploma which the broadcaster claimed was lost when Tinubu went into exile in the 1990s.
Was it ever lost?
In the deposition, it was clear that the certificate was never lost because Tinubu never picked the said Diploma.
CSU Registrar, Caleb Westberg, revealed this fact in a back-and-forth question and answer from Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu.
On page 26 of the deposition, Atiku’s lawyer, Angela Liu, asked him. “So, CSU has determined that it does not have a true and correct copy of the diploma issued to Bola Tinubu in 1979? Correct.”
Westberg answered: “That’s Correct.”
Angela Liu repeated the question again: “And how did CSU determine that it did not have a true and correct copy of this?”
Westberg answered: “We went through every diploma in our possession.”
She asked him again: “And so CSU after going through every diploma, was unable to find an authentic copy of any diploma that CSU issued to Tinubu in 1979, is that correct?
Westberg answered: “We did not find any diploma issued by CSU in 1979 to Mr Tinubu.”
Westberg’s response initially supports the claim that the diploma of Tinubu was not found in the CSU record because it was picked up.
But shortly after making the bold claim, the CSU registrar changed his stance after Angela Liu expanded the question.
She asked him: “And you don’t have a copy of Mr Tinubu’s June 22, 1979 Diploma or his June 27 1979 diploma?”
At this point, Westberg gave a different answer: “We have the June 27, 1979 diploma. It is in our possession,” he said.
Mr Westberg’s response shocked Atiku’s lawyer because only seconds earlier, he boldly asserted that CSU had no 1979 diploma of Tinubu in its record.
The new response of Westberg shows that Tinubu’s diploma at CSU was never picked up, hence contradicting BBC’s claim that he lost the certificate in the 1990s when in exile.
Atiku’s lawyer asked again. “So, why do you have the June 27th diploma in your files?”
Westberg answered. “While the university doesn’t know that for certain, my speculation would be that it was not picked up.”
Tinubu’s INEC certificate
The BBC also cleared Tinubu on the certificate he submitted to INEC, which the broadcaster claimed was a replacement he obtained from CSU. According to the BBC, the replacement diploma is similar to diplomas issued by CSU in the 1990s. However, the BBC failed to show samples of diplomas in the 1990s to support the claim. This makes the claim to lack weight.
But in the deposition, Westberg was asked by Angela Liu if the university issued the June 22, 1979 (INEC) diploma to Tinubu.
Hear her: “So CSU has no record of issuing this INEC diploma to President Tinubu in 1979?”
The registrar answered ‘correct.’
In the deposition, Atiku’s lawyers pointed out some discrepancies in Tinubu’s records, including age and gender. The gender part was striking because it was handwritten. She asked how the university came to the conclusion that the same person who graduated from CSU is the president of Nigeria. The Registrar replied that they made the determination based on the transcript and admission application form of Tinubu and nothing more.