The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ondo State, Mr. Akin Orebiyi, yesterday stated that his comment on the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, on the by-election in the state was not to denigrate his person.
Orebiyi in a statement he personally signed and entitled " Need for clarification," said he was disturbed by the report that he alleged that the minister "was seen going round disrupting the conduct of the by- election.
Orebiyi said the statement credited to him was not true.
"What was meant simply was that the presence of the minister who had been in the constituency earlier and left before the election day led to some agitated youths mistaking one of our supervising Resident Electoral Commissioners for the minister and nearly lynched the said commissioner on Sunday, April 6.
"I was speaking in the context of the malpractices generally perpetrated by political parties during the by-election which had otherwise been commended for its unprecedented correct logistical arrangements and timeliness by all the parties including the minister's party.
"The intention of my statement was to denounce the near-lynching of a colleague of mine who was mistaken for the minister and not to denigrate his person or imply that he was responsible for the mob action," he said.
Meanwhile, the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the state asked Orebiyi to withdraw the allegation immediately and tender an unreserved apology.
The party said: "Failure will be viewed as a hostile act by your person against the interest and integrity of our party and therefore present us with no alternative than to pursue further actions viz administrative and legal actions against you.
The state Secretary of PDP, Chief Ibine Oyedele, in a statement challenge Orebiyi “to lay bare any account or evidence of whatever misdemeanour you accused the minister of committing without hesitation, failure of which you will be regarded as just another rumour monger holding a public office.
The party stated further that "it is pertinent to point out that the minister merely came to campaign for the party in Ajapa and left the federal constituency same day for onward journey to Abuja and was not on ground on election day.
"For the umpteenth time, it is also necessary to make you realise the fact that the practice by political leaders to visit places where their party is on electioneering campaign to shore up support does not in any manner constitute a crime, thus to further educate you in this respect, the president, vice-president, governors and other high ranking officials of government have continuously campaigned in states like Ondo, Edo and even of recent Anambra for the party and no where had any INEC Resident Commissioner raised an eye brow until now that you seem to be echoing the opinions of the Labour Party, an act we consider unwarranted and unfortunate."