The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has rejected a plea to compel top U.S. law enforcement agencies to disclose confidential information concerning President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria.
Aaron Greenspan, an American citizen, filed a lawsuit in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against several federal agencies, including the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In his complaint, Greenspan alleged that these law enforcement agencies had violated FOIA regulations by failing to release pertinent documents within the statutory timeframe. These documents related to purported federal investigations into President Tinubu and the late Mueez Adegboyega Akande.
Greenspan requested records from the Northern District of Illinois and/or Northern District of Indiana, particularly concerning charging decisions against both Tinubu and Akande.
However, Judge Beryl Howell rejected this application on Monday. The judge noted that Greenspan had not met the prerequisites for granting such a request.
Judge Howell stated, “Plaintiff has failed even to attempt to argue how his request may overcome those exemptions and achieve a likelihood of success on the merits. This failure to address this important factor in his emergency motion weighs strongly in favor of denying his motion. The plaintiff falls far short of satisfying this standard. He has not supplied the court with any indication of a concrete, actual threat that he will suffer in the absence of an injunction.”
“While his Emergency Motion states that a Nigerian Supreme Court hearing is scheduled to occur in the coming days, plaintiff cites no injury he will suffer that is in any way traceable to the relief requested in this motion.”
Furthermore, Judge Howell highlighted that the requested documents might be of a highly sensitive and private nature. Bola A. Tinubu, the subject of these records, had not been given the opportunity to protect his privacy interests.
Judge Howell concluded, “the balance of equities militates strongly in favor of denying this Emergency Motion.” She emphasized that there was no need to consider Mr. Greenspan’s request for a hearing to discuss the remote possibility of documents being produced before the date chosen by the defendants themselves, which is October 31, 2023.
“For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that plaintiff’s Emergency Motion for a Hearing to Compel Immediate Document Production, ECF No. 17 is DENIED. SO ORDERED,” the judge said.
The timing of this case was noteworthy as it coincided with the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s hearing of Atiku Abubakar’s case against President Tinubu’s election. Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Peter Obi, were seeking to overturn President Tinubu’s victory in the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
During the hearing, Atiku Abubakar’s legal counsel, Chris Uche, had sought to introduce fresh evidence against President Tinubu.
In a related development, in June, Mr. Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, submitted a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to the presidential election court in Abuja. This letter cleared President Tinubu of any criminal conviction or arrest in the United States.