The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has suspended its Resident Electoral Commissioner REC in Adamawa state, Hudu Yunusa-Ari from office following his illegal declaration of the All Progressives Congress APC Governorship candidate, Aisha Dahiru Binani as Governor-elect in last weekend’s rerun election.
Consequently, the REC has been ordered to stay away from the office of the commission in Yola, Adamawa State.
INEC in a letter dated April 17, 2023 and signed by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony has therefore directed its Administrative Secretary in the state to take charge of its affairs.
Part of the letter reads; “I hereby convey the Commission’s decision that you (Barr. Hudu Yunusa Ari), Resident Electoral Commissioner, Adamawa State should stay away from the Commission’s office in Adamawa State immediately until further notice.
“The Administrative Secretary has been directed to take full charge of INEC, Adamawa State with immediate effect.”
Opposition parties and non-governmental organisations on Sunday took a swipe at the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, for usurping the duties of the state governorship election returning officer.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had at 1 am on Sunday shifted the announcement of the state supplementary election results to 11 am after results from 11 out of 20 local government areas where reruns were held had been declared.
But before 11 am, the REC at 9 am came to the state INEC office in Yola, where the results were being collated and announced the All Progressives Congress candidate, Aishatu Dahiru, popularly known as Binani as the winner of the governorship election.
Prior to her declaration, Binani was trailing behind Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the People’s Democratic Party, who had established a margin of lead of 31,249 votes.
Before the supplementary poll, Fintiri polled 421, 524 votes ahead of Binani who got 390, 275 votes.
However, Fintiri could not be declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election by the state by the state returning officer, Professor Mohammed Mele, of the Department of English and Linguistics, University of Maiduguri, because the margin of lead did not exceed the number of cancelled votes in 69 polling units.
The REC’s action sparked anger across the country as the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, called for the immediate arrest of Yunusa-Ari
The errant REC may face 36 months imprisonment on conviction.
The declaration of Binani which was annulled by the Independent National Electoral Commission generated tension across Adamawa State on Sunday.
But INEC in its statement nullifying Ari’s action asked Nigerians to disregard the pronouncement at the collation centre.
It said it summoned the REC and other officials, who usurped the duties of the returning officer to Abuja.
But the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, who signed the statement on Sunday, noted that the declaration by the REC was null and void as the action of the REC was “usurpation of the power of the returning officer.”
The commission has also invited Yunusa-Ari to Abuja over his action where he is expected to be quizzed over his conduct.
The statement read, “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission has been drawn to the purported declaration of a winner in the Adamawa State Governorship election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
“The action of the REC is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer and therefore null, void and of no effect. Consequently, the collation of the result of the supplementary election held yesterday 15th April 2023 is suspended forthwith.
“The REC for Adamawa State and all other officials involved in the process are hereby directed to report immediately to INEC headquarters in Abuja.
“Meanwhile, the Commission is deeply disturbed by the harassment of our two National Commissioners deployed to the State to ensure a peaceful and credible supplementary election.
“We urge the security agencies to provide them with the necessary security and ensure that nothing untoward befalls them. The two National Commissioners, the Returning Officer and other staff of the Commission must be allowed to perform their duties without let or hindrance.
“The Commission will not condone any act of lawlessness or brigandage targeted at our officials or the process.”