The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is insisting that the accreditation of Women Arise to observe Saturday's governorship election in Ondo State should be withdrawn because its impartiality is questionable, despite attempts by its President, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, to present her group as an impartial observer.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the vehemence with which Dr. Okei-Odumakin defended her group, even resorting to the use of uncouth language, shows that the ACN hit the bull’s eye with its earlier statement.
''What we said in our earlier statement is that INEC, in its choice of which election observers to accredit, has exhibited gross partisanship in favour of the Labour Party (LP) in Ondo for the following reasons: The Coalition of Democrats for Election Reforms (CODER) was de-accredited, apparently on the basis of alleged partisanship, and in its place Women Arise was accredited; That Women Arise cannot be put up as neutral when its President is the wife of Yinka Odumakin, who has openly endorsed Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of LP, in addition to being a political associate of Pastor Tunde Bakare who has also endorsed Gov. Mimiko.
''We also said Femi Aduwo of Rights Monitoring Group (RMG), which has also been accredited to observe Saturday's election, is a known supporter of Gov. Mimiko of the LP; That RMG has been given 1,500 tags while other NGOs have been given only 100 each; That RMG plans to give its cards to LP thugs; That the Monitoring Unit of INEC, which is behind all the shenanigans, colluded with a political party during the 2010 Anambra election and that the fake monitors were arrested and the matter is still in court
''We are therefore renewing our call on INEC to immediately withdraw the accreditation of Women Arise and RMG, if the electoral body is serious about its stated intention to ensure that the Ondo State Governorship Polls is not only free, fair and credible, but seen to be so.
''We concede the rights of Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr. Yinka Odumakin and Mr. Femi Aduwo to support and endorse any candidate of their choice. However you don't need a Sixth Sense to realize that such a person, his or her spouse or friend cannot be appointed as an election monitor or observer,'' ACN said.
The party said it will not respond to the personal attacks contained in the highly-defensive statement issued by an obviously-rattled Dr. Okei-Odumakin, because it (ACN) is well known for dwelling on issues instead of personalities.
It said, however, that Dr. Okei-Odumakin completely missed the point in her statement concerning whether her being the wife of a known supporter of Dr. Mimiko compromises her group's impartiality as an observer in Saturday's election.
''Nobody is interested in who is the head of the Odumakin family or whether or not she calls the shot. The question is: 'Will the average person believe in her impartiality given her husband's open endorsement of Dr. Mimiko? Again, it is irrelevant whether Women Arise was appointed before or after CODER was de-accredited.
The point is that CODER was de-accredited on the grounds of alleged partisanship and Women Arise is still on the list. We have not been told how INEC arrived at its conclusion over CODER's partisanship, but we have proved beyond reasonable doubt that Women Arise and RMG cannot be perceived to be neutral ''Dr. Okei-Odumakin also asked whether ACN was not aware of her marital links when the party enlisted the support of her group to protest against the injustice meted out to Justice Salami. The question to ask is: Was her NGO hired for the protest and how much was she paid for it?'' ACN queried.