By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that anyone found in possession of fake certificate of return in Rivers State would be investigated and made to face the wrath of the law.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State had alleged plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare candidates of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including Governor Nyesom Wike, winners of the March 9 governorship election in the state by issuing them already prepared certificates of returns.
Making the revelation Friday, the Director of Strategic Communications for the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Tonye Cole, Prince Tonye Princewill, alleged that there were unsigned certificates of returns dated March 14 with the name of INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in possession of some elements in the state.
But describing the certificates as fake, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the development should be investigated and culprits appropriately sanctioned.
“Where did they get it from? They should ask them where they got those certificates from. We didn’t issue certificate to anybody. I saw some funny certificates that were not signed. If the INEC chairman is going to issue certificate of return he would sign it. So, those ones that were not signed where did they get it from?
“We even need to investigate them. Those that did that are criminals. They must have gone to forge those certificates, because a good artist can sit down and put that together. Every certificate of return must be signed by the chairman of INEC, so anybody that has that is a criminal! You can quote me on that,” Oyekanmi said.
According to Princewill, who suspected foul play between some INEC officials in Rivers State and the ruling PDP, the APC grouse is that “Though the electoral umpire had suspended the Rivers’ elections via a statement on March 10, 2019, some of the certificates bear dates later than the April 15 date INEC said collated results would be declared. In its latest press statement on the election saga in Rivers State, INEC gave April 19 as the date that certificates of return will be issued to winners.”