The Commission restated its commitment to achieve credible poll in the south west state in August
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has ordered its Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Osun State, Rufus Akeju, to proceed on annual leave.
The Commission, in a statement on Thursday explained that the REC had not been removed from office, but merely went on the leave to ensure his safety.
It also explained that it was part of his contribution towards ensuring the credibility of the August 9 governorship election in the state.
Some opposition parties in Osun States had been canvassing for the removal of Mr. Akeju, a former ambassador, from office ahead of the poll.
Some of the parties alleged that the REC was a personal aide to a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu.
At a meeting between INEC and all the registered political parties in the state in preparation for the governorship poll, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Democratic Party Peoples Party, DPP, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, staged a walk-out demanding Mr. Akeju’s removal.
However, other parties, including the National Conscience Party, NCP, African Democratic Congress, ADC, Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, United Peoples Party, UPP, United Democratic Party, UDP, Citizens Democratic Party, CDP, African Peoples Alliance, APA, New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, and the APC kicked against the demand.
The INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, who attended the meeting, also asked the parties to substantiate their claim with fact and evidence, insisting that the Commission would not remove any of its officials until any allegation against them was proved.
“The REC was requested by the Commission to step aside against the backdrop of intense partisan acrimony over his person. He acceded to the request, knowing the effort being invested by INEC to make the Osun governorship election free, fair and credible,” the statement by
Kayode Idowu, media aide to the INEC Chairman, stated.
“He has not been indicted for any offence and the appeal by INEC for a stay of execution of the interlocutory order restraining the Commission from recognising him as Osun REC still subsists.
“For avoidance of doubt, Ambassador Rufus Akeju remains INEC’s substantive Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State. But another Resident Electoral Commissioner will hold fort for the period that Akeju will be away on his leave of absence.”
The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to spare no effort in ensuring that the upcoming Osun State election was successful “and that it meets the best possible standard of credibility.”
It urged all the parties and individuals to join in this commitment.