• Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Ondo Crisis: Ajulo’s forgery claim rattles Ondo as Sowore demands probe

Akeredolu’s aides dump Aiyedatiwa as governor shops for deputy

Reactions have continued to trail the allegation being raised by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kayode Ajulo, that some officials in the administration of Ondo Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu were signing documents on behalf of the ailing governor.

Recall that Ajulo, the Principal Partner of Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, on Arise Television’s Morning Show programme, alleged that some officials in the administration of Governor Akeredolu were signing documents on behalf of the ailing governor, said his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, cannot take over from the governor since power has not been transferred to him constitutionally, making way for the hijack of state governance by the cabal.

To this end, on Monday, some people in the state asked members of the State Executive Council to set up a panel to investigate the forgery allegation promptly.

Allen Sowore, a human rights lawyer born in Ondo state, who also spoke on the alleged forgery of Governor Akeredolu’s signature, said, “I strongly urge the State Executive Council to establish a technical panel promptly, initiating a comprehensive investigation into this disconcerting situation. This step is crucial in uncovering the circumstances behind multiple signatures purportedly belonging to the Governor on sensitive government documents.”

Last week, two different documents surfaced online bearing the alleged signatures of Akeredolu, who is currently incapacitated despite his return from Germany after a medical vacation.

In the documents which generated a lot of reactions, critics of the government alleged that the signatures of Akeredolu were being used to loot the state’s treasury.

Read also Tinubu’s peace deal in Ondo faces setbacks

But the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bamidele Olateju-Ademola, was quick to dispel the allegation, saying the purported documents were fake and did not bear the real signature of Governor Akeredolu.

Olateju-Ademola revealed how she still took files to the governor on his sick bed and it was returned within a week, insisting that “nobody is forging the governor’s signature.”

“Nobody is forging the Governor’s signature. As I’m standing before you now, I sent two files to Mr governor and the two files came back within a week and he approved what I requested. Nobody is looting the Treasury of Ondo state. Nobody is forcing the governor’s signature,” she said shortly after last week’s state exco meeting.

But beyond the denial, Sowore, a formal aide to Akeredolu during his first term in office, said the Commissioner needed also to understand that the law mandates the government to investigate the allegation since a crime had been committed thoroughly.

He reminded Olateju-Ademola that the “persistent rumours over the past few months” concerning the condemnable act of forging Mr Akeredolu’s signature to authorize sensitive government memos and proposals have gained attention.

“It’s crucial for the Commissioner for Information and Orientation to understand that the essence of Nigeria’s criminal administration mandates thorough investigation whenever there’s an allegation of a crime. Issuing a mere rejoinder fails to serve as a deterrent or punish the offenders effectively,” the lawyer added.

According to Sowore, it was imperative for all accounting officers, heads of agencies, and establishments in the state particularly, the Accountant General to exercise greater diligence and caution in the discharge of their official duties.

“Initially disregarded, my scepticism shifted upon witnessing both the authentic signature and what appears to be forged signatures of the Governor across various media platforms. This is deeply concerning and should alarm all stakeholders in the state, as forgery constitutes a crime punishable under Nigerian criminal laws, regardless of the individual involved.”

He stressed that emphasis must also be placed on public office holders in the state exploiting Mr Akeredolu’s temporary absence for personal enrichment would inevitably be held accountable for their actions and stewardship.