By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the Returning Officer appointed for Saturday Ondo governorship election is not from the State as insinuated by chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council and Oyo Governor, Seyi Makinde.

The PDP National Campaign Council had rejected the appointment of Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, as Returning Officer for the election.

Makinde raised the alarm the election will be compromised if Ogunbodede is allowed to serve as the Returning Officer, alleging he is a crony of Ondo Governor Rotimi Areredolu and hails from Owo with the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.

But National Commissioner & Chairman Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, in a statement, said the Commission will not be drawn into speculations relating to the performance of its constitutional and statutory functions.

He insisted that INEC does not share the responsibility of appointing Returning Officers for elections with any individual or political party.

He assured the Commission is focused on the conducting free, fair and peaceful election and can’t be distracted by speculations.

According to him: “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”.

The commission added: “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 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”.

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