Sunday witnessed an unprecedented moment as Senator Aisha Dahiru, widely known as Binani, was declared the winner of the gubernatorial election in Adamawa State.
Barrister Hudu Yunusa, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), shocked the nation with what many had described as a coup when he usurped the power of the Returning Officer to declare Binani, winner of the State guber election.
All Nigeria Latest News had reported that a supplementary election was conducted in 69 polling units in Adamawa on Saturday in places it was not held during the March 18 gubernatorial election.
Before her declaration, Binani was trailing behind Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party, with a margin of 31,249 votes. Fintiri had scored 421,524 votes, leading Binani who had polled 390,275 votes before the supplementary poll held on Saturday.
With 10 local government areas collated, the exercise was adjourned till 11 am on Sunday.
But as early as 9 am, the REC appeared, with a cover provided by the commissioner of police and announced Binani the winner of the election without any figures.
The Electoral Act mandates the Returning Officer, not REC, to announce such results.
In response to the situation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disapproved of the alleged declaration of Binani as the winner.
The Electoral Commission stated that the Resident Electoral Commissioner’s action constituted a usurpation of the Returning Officer’s authority, emphasizing that it is null, void, and of no effect.
“The action of the REC is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer. It is null, void and of no effect.
“Consequently, the collation of results of the supplementary election is hereby suspended,” a statement by INEC read.
INEC suspended the collation of results for the supplementary election and summoned the Resident Electoral Commissioner to Abuja.
The Commission also wrote the REC ordering him to steer clear from its office in Yola, Adamawa State.
In a letter dated April 17, 2023, by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, the INEC directed its Administrative Secretary in Adamawa to take charge of its affairs.
The Centre for Democracy and Development described the action of the REC as an insult to the Electoral Act and to the Commission.
The Executive Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, in a statement on Sunday, noted that the REC had illegally taken over the duties of the Returning Officer, adding that the action was capable of “provoking the breakdown of law and order in the state”, in light of the already tense political atmosphere.
While speaking on the infamous conduct of the Adamawa REC, a former Director, Voter Education and Publicity at INEC, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, stated that Yunusa ought to face a sort of ‘inquisition.’
Osaze-Uzzi spoke on Monday while fielding questions on Arise Television’s Morning Show program. He noted that INEC could not discipline a REC, stating that only the President acting on the resolution by the two-thirds majority of the Senate can remove the REC, warning he might face jail time for his action.
He said, “Ordinarily, for doing what he did, the REC ought to face some kind of inquisition.
“However, INEC can inquire into what happened, and I am sure they will do that. But in terms of discipline or removal, the President can do that.
“Also, it is to be noted that any person who announces or publishes an election result knowing the same to be false commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for 36 months under section 120(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“And under section 6(2) of the Act, the REC is answerable to the Commission.”
Meanwhile, INEC said it would write the Inspector-General of Police, Baba Ahmed, to investigate and prosecute Hudu Yunusa Ari, the REC for Adamawa. The decision followed the outcome of Tuesday’s technical meeting attended by the INEC’s national commissioners in Abuja.
The Commission also said it decided at the meeting to write the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, to brief President Muhammadu Buhari about the “unwholesome behaviour” of the REC.
At its meeting today, April 18 2023, the Commission discussed matters arising from the Adamawa Governorship election and decided to: “Write to the Inspector-General of Police for the immediate investigation and possible prosecution of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, Barr. Hudu Yunusa Ari.
“Request the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to draw the attention of the appointing authority to the unwholesome behaviour of the REC for further action. The collation process shall resume at a time to be determined by the Returning Officer.”
As the Adamawa debacle ensued, Binani added fresh drama to it when she approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the electoral Commission from voiding the declaration that named her the state’s governor-elect.
She asked the court for an order prohibiting INEC from taking any steps further towards the declaration of the winner of the election until the court determines her application for judicial review.
On his part, Fintiri had expressed confidence he would be re-elected despite the controversy surrounding the gubernatorial election.
“I am not afraid of anything, whether the result will be tampered with or whatever will happen to the result,” he said.
Eventually, the outcome of the polls ended in Fintiri’s favour, with the Returning Officer declaring him as the winner of the election.