The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described claims that it had appointed an ally of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as returning officer for the Ondo state governorship election as fake news.
National Commission and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, gave the clarification in a statement on Friday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on Thursday, alleged that electoral umpire appointed the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, as the Chief Returning Officer of Saturday’s governorship election.
The Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde said Ogunbodede is a known crony of Governor Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and hails from Owo, the same hometown as the candidate.
Makinde said Ogunbodede cannot be a fair party in the proceedings by virtue of his association with the governor and as such, would not guarantee a free and fair election.
But in dismissing 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.
He said: “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.
Okoye said INEC is more concerned in ensuring a credible electoral process while the outcome is determined by the people.