Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied the report that it appointed an ally of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as returning officer for the Ondo State governorship election.
National Commission and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the clarification in a statement on Friday.
According to him, the RO would report to the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State on the date conveyed in his letter of appointment issued several days ago.
This came as a reaction after a statement by the Chairman, National Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party and Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, rejected the choice of the Obafemi Awolowo University Vice-Chancellor as Chief Returning Officer for the election.
Makinde had said, “We are speaking in particular about the appointment of Prof. Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, the Vice-Chancellor of OAU, Ile-Ife, as the Chief Returning Officer of the Ondo State governorship election.
“The PDP totally rejects Prof. Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede acting as Chief Returning Officer. He is a known crony of Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, candidate of the All Progressives Congress and hails from Owo, the same hometown as the candidate. He cannot be a fair party in the proceedings by virtue of their association.”
In a bid to dismiss the report, Okoye clarified that the returning officer for the election is not from Ondo State and not from the University mentioned by the PDP.
“The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to a press conference addressed by the Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, October 8, 2020, to the effect that the Commission has appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, as the Returning Officer for the Ondo Governorship election taking place on October 10, 2020.
“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 Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State on the date conveyed in his letter of appointment issued several days ago.”
The INEC spokesperson implored stakeholders to cooperate and play their own part in ensuring peaceful election rather than engaging in unhelpful speculation