A forensic report by the Association of Forensic Professionals of Nigeria (AFPON) has confirmed that ailing Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu’s signature was forged on an official document.
There are indications that there may be more of such forgeries.
The forensic report signed by Mr Nuhu Kutana Tanko stated that “there are strong indications the author of known specimen handwritings/signatures on known documents marked ‘K-K4’ did not write the questioned signatures on questioned documents marked ‘Q-Q2.’”
The investigation was initiated by the State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, who wrote to the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, confirming the forgery of Akeredolu’s signature on an official document relating to his ministry.
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), won his re-election as the state governor in October 2020 and was sworn in for a second term in office in February 2021.
However, the governor’s second term, since January 2023, has not been smooth sailing as he had to be flown abroad for treatment over a medical condition.
The 67-year-old politician returned to Nigeria in September after a three-month medical leave in Germany but has been holed up in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Akeredolu has been under intense pressure from opposition parties to resign or hand over power to his deputy in line with the 1999 constitution.
In the commissioner’s letter on Friday titled “Forgery Of Mr. Governor’s Signature On Official Document” and dated December 7, he wrote, “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, I 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. GovernorI 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. Very truly yours, Engr. Razaq Obe, Hon. Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources.”
Meanwhile, in the forensic report, the examiner noted: “The identification process basically involves examination and comparison of handwriting identifying characteristics of the disputed signature/handwriting and known specimen signatures/handwriting. These identifying characteristics are those characteristics or features that are innate in a writer’s hand and which makes their writing unique from any other individual. Thus, the identification process involves three main stages and a fourth stage.”
He continued, “FINDINGS; Forensic Science Examination and comparison of the strokes and identifying characteristics or features forming the structural design of the disputed signatures/handwritings and those found and noted in the known specimen signatures/handwritings revealed dissimilarities in the handwriting identifying characteristics observed in both known and questioned handwritings/signatures.
“The dissimilarities observed were with respect to features of execution and style of handwriting such as form, arrangement, beginning and ending of strokes, diacritics and other subtle features of handwriting identifying characteristics. In view of the above, the following opinions are hereby arrived at: That the author of known specimen handwritings/ signatures did not write the questioned handwritings on questioned documents marked “Q-Q2”. (see VSC 8000 charts marked 3, 4 and 5) That, there are strong indications the author of known specimen handwritings/signatures on known documents marked “K-K4” did not write the questioned signatures on questioned documents marked “Q-Q2”. (see VSC 8000 charts marked 1 and 2).
“Based on the documents submitted for analysis and the findings made in line with examination conducted following the stated methodologies and standard procedures, my opinion is therefore as stated in paragraphs (3.1) and (3.2) above. Hence, all the documents submitted for examination are hereby returned to the client. Five (5) charts produced using the Video Spectral Comparator are also attached for demonstrative purpose. In case of court testimony, prompt notice should be given.”