The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday says it will not share the responsibility of appointing collation and returning officers with individuals, groups or political parties.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commission and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, gave the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Okoye was reacting to some concerns about the appointed chief returning officers for Ondo State governorship election.
He said that INEC had a clear procedure of appointing collation and returning officers.
He added that it would be counter-productive to draw the commission into unnecessary controversy and speculation relating to the exercise of its statutory responsibilities
Okoye explained that the collation of results in Ondo State governorship election would be done at the 203 electoral wards/registration areas and the 18 local government areas of the state as well as the state collation centre.
“The commission has the sole responsibility of appointing collation officers for the various levels of collation.
“The commission will also appoint a returning officer for the governorship election.
“The commission has never and will never share the responsibility of appointing collation and returning officers with individuals, groups or political parties.
He added that, “The commission has the sole responsibility of making a determination of those to be appointed as collation and returning officers.
“It is also the responsibility of the commission to determine from which institution to appoint them.
“All the collation officers must subscribe to the oath of neutrality and must exhibit the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct.
“At the end of election on Saturday, there will be a returning officer for the governorship election.
“The commission has accredited polling agents of the political parties contesting the election.
“The results of the election will be declared at the polling units and collated at the registration area collation centre and the local government collation centres.
“The collation at the state level will be beamed live in the major networks and the agents of the political parties will be present,” Okoye said.
Okoye noted that on election day, the people of Ondo State and indeed Nigerians, would see the collation and returning officer for the governorship election and it would be clear that all the speculations were completely misplaced.
He said that INEC was focused on delivering free, fair and peaceful governorship election in Ondo State.
He added that INEC had been inclusive, consultative and firm in all its activities leading to the Oct. 10 governorship election in the state.
“On Thursday, Oct. 8, the commission invited all the political parties, civil society groups and organisations and the media to witness the unveiling and inspection of the sensitive materials in the Central Bank in Akure.
“These materials have departed under security cover to the various local government areas.
“The commission is ready for the election, which is supervised by three national commissioners and supported by six resident electoral commissioners,” he said
Okoye assured the people of Ondo State that the commission was committed to the conduct of credible and peaceful election.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on Thursday, rejected the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, as the Chief Returning Officer of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
The Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, stated this at a news conference in Akure.
Makinde alleged that Ogunbodede was a known crony of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu.
Makinde, who alleged that Ogunbodede might not be a fair party in the proceedings by virtue of his association with Akeredolu called on INEC to immediately replace him.(NAN)