Fact-Check: Did FUTO VC, Professor Oti Accuse INEC Chairman of Subverting Wishes of Abia People?
Claim: A post was widely circulated on social media and news blogs that Professor Nnenna Oti, the Returning Officer for the Abia state governorship election allegedly accused the Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu of going against the wishes of the people of Abia.
Prof Oti is the Vice-Chancellor of Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO).
Full text: The report was also published on a Twitter handle: @RuleofLawNG, Facebook, and Perisco Penga with the headline: “How FUTO VC allegedly accused INEC Chairman of attempt to subvert wishes of Ndi Abia.”
The report states that “to the shock and surprise of everyone in the hall, Professor Oti 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.”
Reacting, a twitter user @firstladyship posted Prof Oti’s photo with the following comment: “Like the incorruptible Mike Igini (former REC for Akwa Ibom), Prof. Nnenna Oti stood her ground in Abia as well. She was threatened & put under pressure to compromise. But she told them she was a mother, a pastor, & will do her duty to God & man! SHE DESERVES RECOGNITION! 👏”
Verification: A PRNigeria fact-check discovers a video where Professor Oti spoke extensively on the issues and asked the INEC Administrative Secretary to read out a message that came from the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
PRNigeria further examined the clip which was at a briefing covered by Channels TV and other media platforms but there was nowhere in the clip that Prof Oti accused the INEC Chairman of moving to subvert the wishes of Abia electorate.
In the video Professor Oti instead stated thus: “the position of INEC Abuja on the case was already in the public view by a press release and a press interview by Mr. Festus Okoye.”
She later went on to add that, “The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had called me and briefed me on the proper way to proceed. I shall therefore abide by all INEC guidelines.”
Meanwhile the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi responded in a statement that the only communication sent to the state Returning Officer was the commission’s directive suspending further collation of results.
“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 content of the letter should 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,” he clarified.
Conclusion: Findings by PRNigeria reveals that Professor Oti did not accuse the INEC Chairman of subverting Abia elections. She in fact admitted to have received a call from the Chairman advising her on the best way to proceed and vowed to abide by the INEC guidelines.
PRNigeria, therefore, concludes that the claim that Prof. Nnenna Oti accused the INEC Chairman of moving to subvert the will of “Ndi Abia” is MISLEADING and FALSE.
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