The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that it reserves the right to appoint returning officers for elections.
INEC added that claims by the PDP that the Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede has been appointed as the Returning Officer for the Ondo State governorship election is not true.
The electoral umpire added that the returning officer would report to the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State based on the date and other conditions listed in his letter of appointment.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, made the clarification in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
His clarification follows the call by the chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council for the Ondo Governorship election, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who raised an alarm on Thursday, expressing concern that the appointment of Professor Ogunbodede as the Returning Officer for the election will not guarantee a free and fair outcome.
Makinde, the Oyo State Governor while addressing newsmen in Akure, Ondo State capital, said Ogunbodede is a known crony of Rotimi Akeredolu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and therefore cannot be expected to be a fair party in the proceedings by virtue of their association.
INEC has now explained that such fears are unfounded as Ogunmodede has not been given any such role in the election scheduled for Saturday, 10th October.
The commission explained that RO for Saturday Ondo State governorship election “is not from Ondo State and not from OAU Ile-Ife.”
Okoye explained that “While the commission will not be drawn into speculations relating to the performance of its constitutional and statutory functions, it is imperative to set the records straight for the benefit of the people of Ondo State and the integrity of the electoral process.
“It is the sole responsibility of the commission to appoint a Returning Officer for the Ondo governorship election and does not share this responsibility with any individual, group or political party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Returning Officer for the Ondo Governorship election is not from Ondo State and not from the University mentioned in the said press conference.
“The Returning Officer appointed by the commission will report to the REC for Ondo State on the date conveyed in his letter of appointment issued several days ago.
“The commission is firmly focused on the conduct of free, fair and peaceful election and implores all the stakeholders to cooperate and play their own part in ensuring peaceful election and not to engage in unhelpful speculation.
“The main concern of the commission is in ensuring a credible electoral process while the outcome is in the hands of the people of Ondo State.”
Source: Naija News