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Foundation For Investigative Journalism Faults BBC Affirmation Report On Tinubu, Says BBC Lied

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A report by the African chapter of the British Broadcasting Corporation—BBC, on President Bola Tinubu’s certificate, where it claimed there is no evidence pointing to the fact that he forged his records, has been found to be false.

The BBC report, titled ‘Bola Tinubu diploma: No evidence Nigeria’s president forged college record’, was published on Wednesday and has stirred serious reactions across the country.

Though, BBC which is notoriously known for doing the biddings of the British authorities, was suspected to have concocted the misleading report as a way of salvaging the image of the Nigerian leader adjudged to be badly damaged following the release of his academic records by Chicago State University—CSU.

A counter report by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism—FIJ, have shown that the British media outlet erred in its report.

According to FIJ, it had fact-checked Tinubu’s academic profile after CSU released his academic records to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party—PDP, in early October.

From the documents made available by CSU, FIJ found that the replacement certificate Tinubu presented to the Independent Electoral Commission—INEC did not emanate from the university. FIJ came to this conclusion after it compared replacement certificates issued in the 1990s with the one Tinubu submitted to INEC ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu’s certificate had some missing features, including the year ‘1867’ which appeared on every other CSU sample. FIJ also found that a signature on the lower right of the certificate appeared legible in a position that was lower than where the year should have appeared, meaning the signature should have suffered a similar fate if poor photocopying really cropped the year out.

Of particular interest was the expression, ‘with honors’, which appeared on the certificate Tinubu submitted to INEC. None of the 1990s samples provided by CSU showed those words underneath the course of study, and this suggests that Tinubu’s certificate, which was supposedly obtained within the same timeframe, did not emanate from the school.

In its report, the BBC highlighted the conclusion of “a fact-checking organisation” which claimed that Tinubu’s certificate was not forged. However, FIJ has found that this conclusion is wrong.

The BBC relied on three different Tinubu certificates for its analysis:

The original one, from 1979, which he has said in the past, was lost when he went into exile in the 1990s.

The second one, that he submitted to INEC – supposedly a replacement diploma from CSU (it is similar to diplomas issued by CSU in the 1990s).

Additionally, CSU holds another replacement diploma for Mr Tinubu that they say is probably from the early 2000s that he never collected.
Given the clarification in the above three points, FIJ asserted that it is clear that Tinubu only obtained a replacement certificate from the CSU in the 1990s. It adds that the BBC confirmed this: “It turns out that the discrepancy in the appearance of the diploma is down to it having been re-issued in the 1990s”.

However, from the samples provided by CSU in its deposition, certificates issued in the 1990s did not include the expression ‘with honors’. The BBC also clearly states in its report that “any request for a new diploma would resemble the current template at that time, no matter when the student graduated”. This renders BBC’s verification of Tinubu’s 1990s certificate with one issued in the 2000s illogical.

Also, the BBC had claimed that CSU’s policy is to issue replacement certificates that match the current template, regardless of when the student graduated. However, this claim is contradicted by the fact that Tinubu’s certificate includes a signature of the current President of CSU, who took office in 2018, which the fact-checking organisation says is impossible.

The organisation has it that until the CSU provides another certificate from the 1990s, which has ‘with honours’, there are only two reasonable explanations for Tinubu’s certificate. One is that it did not emanate from the CSU. Two, whoever created the controversial certificate in Tinubu’s possession copied the template of the 2000s without paying attention to timeframe variations. This, it said, is clear in one of the signatures on Tinubu’s certificate.

The signature on the right is that of Zaldwaynaka “Z”, the current President of CSU, who took office in 2018. A president who took office in 2018 could not have signed a certificate supposedly released in the 1990s.

More importantly, Westberg admitted in his deposition that the certificate Tinubu submitted to INEC was not from CSU, which FIJ conclusively said added to render the report by BBC flawed.

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