Abia 2023: INEC Chairman Disowns Abia Returning Officer, Says He Never Ordered Tampering of Results
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has denounced an online report accusing its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of attempts to violate its guidelines and consequently distort the Governorship election result in Abia State.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi said the only communication sent to the State Returning Officer was the commission’s directive suspending further collation of results.
He said; “The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu never called the Returning Officer to give her a directive. Rather, the Returning Officer wanted the official communication on the Commission’s decision to suspend the collation of results in Abia State. The Chairman then directed that pending the delivery of the hard copies, the soft copies of the Commission’s letter be forwarded immediately to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Enugu State and the Administrative Secretary of Abia State.
“The Returning Officer for Abia State then directed that the contents of the letter be read aloud by the Administrative Secretary in the presence of agents of political parties, observers, the media and security personnel at the Collation Centre.
“This is what is now being mischievously interpreted as a directive to the Returning Officer on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines. There is nothing like that.
“In fact, the content of the letter is basically the same as the Commission’s Press Release dated Monday 20th March 2023 which has since been uploaded to the Commission’s social media platforms and is already in the public domain.
“The public should disregard the story as fake news”, said Oyekanmi.
A portal, Strenuous Blog, had quoted the Returning Officer as alleging that she was being forced to do the wrong thing.
According to the portal; “The INEC Presiding Officer In Abia State Nnenna Oti had this to say…’I’m Professor Nnenna Oti from Afikpo. I am the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, The people’s mandate shall stand. I have spent all my adult life in pursuit of the ideals of good governance. We shall stand by the these principles. The pastor in me (she is a Pastor with the RCCG) and the mother in me will not permit me to do anything that will adversely affect the future of our children. I shall do right by God and by man!’
“Then to the shock and surprise of everyone in the hall, she said that the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, personally called her and gave her directives on guidelines to follow in ensuring that Abia governorship election results were collated based on some criteria but that on her own she has decided that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.
“At that point, she asked the Administrative Secretary to read the message she said that came from the INEC headquarters Abuja”.
Checks revealed that the commission has no such nomenclature as “State INEC Presiding Officer”
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