Adamawa Election: Suspended REC breaks silence, claims his action lawful

THE suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Adamawa State, Hudu Ari, has said that his action during the April 15 supplementary election was lawful.

Ari stressed that he announced the results of 69 polling units in the April 15 supplementary election due to security pressure.

The embattled REC made the claim a week after The ICIR reported that INEC was confused over his whereabouts.

In a letter signed by Ari to the Inspector-General of Police, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), he explained his role in the controversial declaration of the governorship election.

He stated that he acted within the ambit of the law to avert impending danger of the delay in announcing the results.

According to Ari, “the results brought by the presiding officers from the 69 polling units, which he did not sign, differed from those uploaded on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.”

He pointed out that attempts had been made to replace him as the collation officer with the administrative secretary.

He further alleged that he was threatened by contesting candidates, and his residential home was surrounded by policemen from the Government House.

“It was based on this that I compiled all the polling unit results and declared the winner of the election based on the highest number of valid votes scored by the candidate of the APC.

“I had the breakdown of the valid votes scored by the two leading candidates in the supplementary election, using the results from the polling units as collated into all relevant forms EC8B, C, D and E respectively by properly and legally appointed and recognised collation officers and my humble self as the Adamawa State Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

“Prior to the declaration, there was an intelligence report made available to me that the two national commissioners were at the Government House, Yola at 8:31pm on April 15, 2023 and held a meeting with Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.”

He accused some PDP supporters of attacking two INEC commissioners and the returning officer because of Fintiri’s defeat.

“It was alleged that the people beaten in the purported video wanted to subvert the rerun election in Adamawa State and undermine the will of the people as expressed through the ballot,” he said.

The ICIR reported that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the suspension of the Adamawa REC on Thursday, April 20.

The development was disclosed in a statement signed by the Director of Information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey.

The statement noted that the Adamawa State Police Commissioner, Directorate of State Services (DSS) officials and their counterparts from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who allegedly aided Ari’s declaration,  would be investigated alongside the suspended INEC official.

Buhari ordered the Director-General of the DSS and Commandant-General of the NSCDC to probe their officials who were involved in the illegal act.

Controversial declaration of election result

The ICIR also reported that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose candidate and incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, was leading in the results already announced by the electoral body, protested the declaration of the APC flagbearer as the winner of the Adamawa poll.

The suspended REC illegally declared the winner while the collation of results had yet to conclude.

According to the Electoral Act (2022), the Returning Officer for the election, rather than the REC, has the power to declare the winner of an election.

Fintiri had the highest number of votes cast in the governorship election held on March 18, but some votes were cancelled, and the election could not hold in some parts of the state, compelling INEC to declare the exercise inconclusive.






     

     

    Fintiri polled 421,524, while Binani secured 390, 275 in the March 18 election.

    The incumbent governor won 13 of Adamawa’s 21 local government areas, while Binani won eight LGAs in the first round of the exercise on March 18.

    Similarly, Fintiri was leading in the supplementary votes counted in 10 out of the 20 local government areas when the REC made his pronouncement.

    The ICIR also reported that INEC declared Fintiri the winner on Tuesday, April 18, after polling 430,861 votes to beat Binani, who got 398,788 votes.

    Stories with punches holding the powerful accountable. His determination to speak out against corruption and influence the conversation in Nigeria, the surrounding region and the continent inspires him.

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