US law protects Tinubu’s academic record privacy – Onoh

President Bola Tinubu

*violation of privacy akin to asult on all Nigerians

President Bola Tinubu’s former spokesman in the Southeast East, Dr. Josef Onoh has disclosed that the United States of America (USA) privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is protecting the Nigeria President from releasing his academic records to the 2023 presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku had gone to court asking for the authorities of the Chicago State University (CSU) to release the academic records of President Tinubu to him which the President’s legal representatives objected to expect for the release of Tinubu’s result alone without other details of academic performance.

Tinubu’s objection has been causing some uproar in the opposition campaigns, where Atiku and his followers are alleging that Tinubu has some skeleton in his cupboard.

But Onoh in a statement on Wednesday said that ignorance of the laws of the USA was a main cause of the dissents among the opposing Nigeria political class.

Onoh stated that he was not surprised that some gullible Nigerians could be fooled the way Atiku and a few others are currently playing pranks with their brains, such as the same gullible Nigerians were meant to believe that they once had a cloned President, (Jubril of Sudan).

Onoh said that in the unfortunate case of President Tinubu’s academic record, the president was specific in his request that “if the court was inclined to grant Atiku’s application for discovery, it should be limited to only his diploma certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the 2023 presidential election, which he won.”

He, therefore, said that granting any request outside the above would be equivalent to inviting a man for a dress code dinner party where it’s specifically requested that all invited guests should wear a purple gown for ladies and black Tuxedo for gentlemen, but upon arrival to the venue, another invited guest starts requesting to see the colour of the Man’s wife underwear to ascertain if it’s purple.

“This example shows how ridiculous such a request by Atiku is perceived and anyone even the husband to the lady that grants such an inspection would not only be infringing on the wife’s right, but also violating her right to privacy and no reasonable child who calls that woman her mother will tolerate or accept such.

“Also, release of his records to Atiku might contain personal informations that might go against The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also commonly known as the Buckley Amendment, which became law in November 1974 in the US to protect the privacy of personally identifiable information in a student’s education record.

“FERPA serves a two-fold purpose: (1) to grant parents (and students 18 or older) access to information in the student’s education record, and (2) to protect that information from disclosure to third parties without consent.

“Unfortunately, most Nigerians are not conversant with this law so in their gullibility they are quick to judge and rush to social media to paint a picture of conspiracy as if the president has something to hide. After all, a great percentage of Nigerians who were quick to belive their former president was a clone and dubbed Jubril from Sudan can believe anything and exposes the extent of their gullibility which Atiku and the Obidents are leveraging on.

“The President like many other students that were educated in the US is only exercising his rights as protected by FERPA. Which is different from the Nigerian educational system,” Onoh said.

According to him, FERPA gives one the rights: To inspect and review one’s own education records; To consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in one’s education records; To ask to have your education records corrected if you believe them to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights and, if necessary, to have a hearing on this issue; To file with the U.S. Department of Education a complaint concerning alleged failures by Chicago University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Part of Onoh’s statement reads: “In the US, the law withholds federal funds from any school with ‘a policy or practice of permitting the release of education records’ or of the ‘personally identifiable information’ contained in those records, unless the adult student or parent has consented or another exception in the law applies. In other words, if a school has a policy or practice of improperly disclosing students’ education records (or not disclosing information it is required to disclose), it could potentially lose all federal funding.

“The US Supreme Court has described education records as ‘institutional records kept by a single central custodian, such as a registrar . . .’ In other words, for FERPA to apply, the record in question must be systematically maintained by the school. For example, psychological evaluations and notes on disciplinary actions are considered education records subject to FERPA.

“However, even basic directory information can be subject to FERPA if ‘when one or more pieces of information are combined it would allow a reasonable person to identify a child.’

“In a 2017 case, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that even general information such as the total number of students enrolled in each grade, ethnic group designations, disability statistics, and how many students qualify for free or reduced lunch could be protected from disclosure under FERPA because that information could be ‘linkable to a specific student . . . with reasonable certainty’ even by someone ‘who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances.’

“Finally, no sane human being even if your mother is a mental patient and is an embarrassment to you will still let her privacy be violated, because any violation on her is a violation on your person.

“President Tinubu is our president, and we owe alligence to our country and president hence no reasonable Nigerian can let Atiku or some select online obidient mischiefs to violate our decency under the guise of political desperation.”