THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, Hudu Yinusa Ari, with immediate effect.
Ari has been under fire since Sunday, April 16, after he declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aisha Dahiru (Binani), the winner of the election concluded through a supplementary poll on Saturday, April 15.
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.
The suspended REC illegally declared the winner while the collation of results had yet to conclude. According to 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, forcing 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 before the REC made his pronouncement.
The ICIR reported how the INEC headquarters in Abuja summoned Ari minutes after he declared Binani winner.
The Commission also invited its other staff involved in the declaration to Abuja and consequently suspended the collation of results of the supplementary poll.
The ICIR reports that Adamawa State is the only remaining state that is yet to have a governor-elect in all states where the governorship election took place on March 18 across Nigeria.
In a letter dated April 17, signed by Rose Oriaran-Anthony, the INEC Secretary, the Commission demanded that Ari ‘stay away’ from its Adamawa office.
“I hereby convey the Commission’s decision that you, Barrister Hudu Yunusa Ari, Resident Electoral Commission, 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,” parts of the letter read.
The ICIR reported how the PDP had called for Ari’s removal over alleged malpractices during the elections in the state.
Many Nigerians have reacted to the bizarre incident in the North-East state, where the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, hails from.
Many have described the declaration by the REC as the height of the shortcomings of the 2023 elections.