How late activist-lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, battled Tinubu for ‘lying under oath’ about University of Chicago, Ibadan college

On October 7, 1999, the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) filed an order at the Federal High Court, Lagos to compel security operatives to investigate criminal allegations which he made against the then governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu had made the claim of loss of certificates in his filings with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 1999 and 2003 when he ran for governor of Lagos State. 

He however stated in 1999 that he attended St Paul Children’s Home School, Ibadan, from 1958 to 1964 and Government College, Ibadan (GCI) from1965 to 1968 before proceeding to Richard Daley College, Chicago, from 1969 to 1971 and the University of Chicago.

Fawehinmi in the court documents had filed an order of mandamus praying the court to compel security operatives to investigate the allegations against Tinubu who had earlier been cleared by the Lagos House of Assembly.

“AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS compelling the respondents whether, by themselves, their agents, servants, privies or otherwise however to investigate the applicant’s complaint of false statements on oath and false declarations made under oath by Mr Bola Tinubu as contained in the two documents, that is: Independent National Electoral Commission Form CF001 declared and verified under Oath by Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu (now Governor of Lagos State) before the Commissioner for Oaths at the High Court Registry, Ikeja on December 28, 1998,” the court document had read.

“And Affidavit entitled; Affidavit in respect of Lost Certificates sworn to by Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu (now Governor of Lagos State) before the Commissioner for Oath at the High Court Registry, Ikeja on December 29, 1998.”

The Federal High court in its judgement however ruled that Tinubu as then sitting governor could not be tried as he enjoyed immunity from prosecution. The Appeal Court also upheld the judgement of the lower court.

The late legal luminary then headed to the Supreme Court and the apex court ruled that though Tinubu enjoyed immunity from prosecution, he could be investigated by the police over the allegation and tried after his tenure.

However, 15 years after his tenure as the governor of Lagos state, the Nigeria Police Force has refused to charge him as ruled by the Supreme Court.

In 2013, one Dr. Dominic Adegbola filed an unsuccessful application seeking to reopen the suit.

The late Adegbola had sought an order compelling the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to commence an investigation into the alleged case of certificate forgery.

Dismissing the application, Justice Saliu Saidu held that, by Order 34, Rule 4 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, the applicant failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of the law.

Justice Saidu also held that such an application should have been filed before the court within three months when the alleged fraudulent act was detected.

According to the judge, since the application was not brought within the stipulated time, as mandated by the rules of court, it was bound to “hit the rocks”.

Though Tinubu later presented a certificate indicating he attended Chicago State University but SaharaReporters learnt that had never been the issue in contention as raised by the late legal luminary, Fawehinmi.

The issue raised by the late lawyer was about what he (Tinubu) filled in the INEC form F001 he submitted to the electoral body as his academic qualifications in 1998 which included the claim that he attended the University of Chicago and not Chicago State University.

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois while on the other hand, Chicago State University is a predominantly Black, public university in Chicago, Illinois that is not highly regarded.

Also challenged was what he filled in the INEC form that he attended St. Paul’s School Aroloya, Lagos for his primary education, which does not exist; University of Chicago; Government College, Ibadan between 1965 and 1968, which the authorities and Old Boys Association of Government College, Ibadan debunked.

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