The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to appoint Kayode Soremekun as the returning officer for Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
Mr. Soremekun, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, was the returning officer during September’s gubernatorial election in neighbouring Edo State, which the party’s candidate lost.
The PDP claimed Mr Soremekun was a party to the alleged widespread rigging during the election won by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki.
Banji Okunomo, the publicity secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, said the party had confirmed that several officials who perpetrated the “rigging” of the Edo election were being escorted to the state capital, Akure, on Friday by policemen from Ekiti State, with instructions to repeat what they did in Edo State.
“This is uncalled for and a further attestation to the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) desperation to rig the governorship election in favour of its candidate. We will not accept this,” he said in a statement late on Thursday.
“It would be recalled that these same people were the ones used by the APC to manipulate the Edo State election which, today, is being described as one of the most fraudulent elections in the history of the nation’s democracy.”
Mr Okuomo said the APC in the state had been instructed to repeat the template it used in rigging the election in Edo State.
“It is rather unfortunate that the INEC in Ondo State would heed the instructions given by its defacto Chairman, Mrs Amina Zakari to use the Edo State template for Ondo State.
“Just like the experience in Edo State, the PDP has gathered that results have already been written for Prof. Soremekun and his team to announce after the election,” he said.
Mr Ojunomo wondered why INEC would bring back Mr. Soremekun after the controversy that surrounded his role in Edo State, when it could have used any professor from other nearby universities.
“There are so many University Dons of repute in Nigeria. If at all the INEC is constrained financially, it could still make do with Vice Chancellors of nearby Federal Universities in Osun, Oyo and even Edo States.
“Apparently, Prof Soremekun is not the only Vice Chancellor in Nigeria and there is no reason why he should be INEC’s choice again especially considering his controversial role in the rigging of the recently held Edo Election,” he said.
He warned INEC that any attempt to manipulate the result of Saturday’s election would be vehemently resisted by the people on Ondo State
“We must let the INEC know that much as Ondo State people are peace loving, we would not allow any form of misdemeanour on the part of INEC or its agents. We would resist any attempt to manipulate the election result.
“We reject any form of advanced rigging in the Ondo State governorship election and want the electoral umpire to be unbiased for the sake of peace during and after the poll.
“We remain resolute in our commitment to building our democracy. However, we call on the electorate to be at alert till the final results of the election is announced,” he said.