A commissioner in the Ondo State government has alleged that the signature of ailing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on some official documents were forged.
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, made the allegation in a letter dated 7 December addressed to the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
It came days after a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kayode Ajulo, made the same allegation while appearing on Arise Television on Monday.
“I have it on good authority as a lawyer some of the commissioners, about five of them, sent memos to the governor and the memos came back with purported approval of the governor. Going through the approval, particularly the signature, checking it with all other approvals done when the governor was well, there were disparities,” Mr Ajulo, who is from the state, said.
‘Forensic examination proves forgery’
In his letter to the deputy governor days after Mr Ajulo made the claim on television, Mr Obe said he had conducted a forensic examination on a document passed to him purpportedly from the governor, which confirmed that the governor’s signature on it was forged.
“I write to bring to your attention a critical matter that requires immediate action. It has been confirmed that the signature of Mr. Governor on a certain document has been forged.
“The irregularities in the signature were first observed when a file from my ministry was returned through the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). This is the only file that has been returned so far out of the five files that were sent for Mr. Governor’s approval about two months ago. Upon closer inspection, I noticed significant differences between the suspicious signature and handwriting and Mr. Governor’s known signatures and handwriting in the file.
“Concerned about the gravity of the situation, I decided to seek a forensic review before disclosing my discovery. I sent the suspicious signature, handwriting samples, and copies of the old regular signatures to forensic experts, who have now confirmed that the suspicious signature and handwriting were indeed forged.
“Despite the inherent risks involved, | have chosen to fulfill the obligations of my office by reporting this alarming development to you as the highest-ranking member of the State Executive Council after Mr. Governor. | firmly believe that this is the course of action our esteemed leader, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, would take in such a situation.
“Considering the possibility that such forgery may be widespread, this heads-up is of utmost importance to the government and people of Ondo State. I have attached a copy of the forensic report and relevant pages from the file for your reference.
“I urge you to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take appropriate actions to address the situation. It is crucial that we restore the integrity of our processes and ensure that such a disturbing development is swiftly punctuated,” Mr Obe wrote.
‘Forgery allegation false’
Meanwhile, the governor’s chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde, had denied the forgery of Mr Akeredolu’s signature on official documents when Mr Ajulo first made the claim on Monday.
Mr Olatunde described the claim as “utterly preposterous and ludicrous.”
He said, “If they believe there’s a disparity, they should present a legitimate document to support their claims. We are more than willing to investigate the matter and prosecute any one found culpable.”
Ondo State has been in a political crisis since Governor Akeredolu became incapacitated this year. He was on a medical vacation for three months during which his deputy exercised his powers as the deputy governor.
However, during the governor’s absence, some loyalists accused the deputy governor of disloyalty to his principal, culminating in an attempt to remove him from office following the return of Mr Akeredolu from medical treatment in Germany in October.
Last month, President Bola Tinubu summoned the officials of the state government, national and state lawmakers and party officials to a meeting in Abuja where they agreed to maintain peace and the status quo.
The latest development indicates that friction remains in the government, with the full extent of Mr Akeredolu’s ailment still unknown. The governor has over a year left to the end of his second term.
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