From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as fake the mischievously interpretation and claim that its chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, issued directive to the Returning Officer for Abia State governorship election, Nnenna Oti, on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines.

Yakubu, in a rebuttal from his Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, maintained that he never called the Returning Officer, who doubles as the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri.

Oti, had claimed to the shock and surprise of everyone in the hall that the INEC Chairman 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.

However, responding to the claim, Oyekanmi noted in his rebuttal that; “INEC Chairman 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 result in Abia State.

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“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. The public should disregard the story as fake news,” Oyekanmi insisted