By Tunde Opalana
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that has the unhindered prerogative to appoint Returning Officers for all elections it conducts, Daily Times gathered.
This is as the Commission disproves claims by the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council for the Ondo state governorship election and governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde that INEC appointed someone from the same town as Gov.Rotimi Akeredolu as Returning Officer for tomorrow’s election.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye in a statement on Friday said it is imperative to set the record straight to avoid doubting the integrity of the electoral process.
He said the attention of INEC was drawn to a press conference addressed by 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”
Okoye said 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 a peaceful election and not to engage in unhelpful speculation.