The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied appointing the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, as the Returning Officer for the Ondo Governorship election, holding on Saturday.
Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, denied the story in a statement issued on Friday in Abuja.
Okoye said INEC’s attention has been drawn to a press conference addressed by the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, on Thursday in Akure in which he alleged that the Commission has appointed Ogunbodede as the Returning Officer for the Ondo election.
Makinde also alleged that Ogunbodede is a known crony of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and might not be fair to all in the election, and called for his immediate replacement.
But Okoye clarified that INEC’s returning officer for the Ondo governorship election is not from Ondo state or from the OAU.
“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.
“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 Commission is firmly focused to conduct a free, fair, and peaceful election and implores all stakeholders to cooperate and play their own part in ensuring a peaceful election and not to engage in unhelpful speculation.”
Okoye said that the main concern of the Commission was in to ensure a credible electoral process while the outcome is in the hands of the people of Ondo State.