Hudu Yunusa Ari, the eluding suspended resident electoral commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has explained why he controversially declared Aisha Dahiru Binani, the APC candidate for governor of Adamawa State, as the winner of the election.
Newsmen believes that in a letter to the Nigerian Police that also included copies for the director-general of the State Security Service (SSS), the National Security Adviser (NSA), and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Hudu explained his involvement in the announcement.
The letter from the REC, who is in hiding, accused Baba Bila and Abdullahi Zuru, two national commissioners sent to help him conduct the March 15 supplemental poll, of surreptitiously collaborating with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the results.
The night before the election, on Friday, at around 8:31 p.m., INEC officials met in secret with Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the Government House Yola to finalize their plans to change the collation officers and tamper with the election results, according to lawyer Yunusa Ari.
On election day, according to Aru, the state’s police commissioner gave him information on a plot that revealed how certain politicians had recruited Boko Haram militants to take vote boxes and cause trouble at the polls.
According to him, the police stated in an update the next day that the security risks persisted because to the rebels’ plans to assault numerous local administrations in order to obstruct collation.
In the four-page letter, he said that after receiving such advice, he was instructed to transfer the collation from local government areas to the state’s INEC headquarters.
The electoral commissioner claimed that he swiftly followed the instructions and gave the order for all ad hoc personnel to carry out collation at the commission’s main office in Dougirei, Yola.
He said he did not realize that the two assisting national commissioners had plans of their own as they “quietly and secretly gave out conflicting counter directives” to the electoral officers, adding that the counter-directives also said that collation should be done in the local government areas with new local government collation officers that he was “not aware of.”
“This is without my knowledge or authorisation as the Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by laws establishing INEC and Electoral Act,” Yunusa Ari said.
He later discovered that Bila and Zuru allegedly defied his order and quietly collated results at local governments using “self-appointed, unapproved and illegal collation officers.”
Ari explained that while he was preparing for state collation, he was shocked to learn that his name had not only been excluded but “replaced with that of the administrative secretary to take charge of collation.”
He questioned the assisting national commissioners but got no explanation. Instead, they “declared that I was nowhere to be found.”
He said that security guards from the Government House Yola put him under house arrest, and that the police commissioner sent out mobile officers to free him.
Ari said: “It took the intervention of the commissioner of police who sent mobile policemen to my house, and when they heard a call was made to the CP, the policemen from Government House fled in a white Toyota Hilux van.”
On April 16, about one in the morning, Yunusa Ari said he went to the collation center where Bila and Zuru were sleeping to remind them that he was still the state’s REC and that all participants in the rerun election should return there by eleven o’clock the following day.
After looking over the results posted on the INEC IREV portal, the suspended REC claimed that he had found inconsistencies because “the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me.”
To wrap up the extra election and avoid a collapse in law and order, Ari claimed he called a conference of security authorities, including the police commissioner, SSS, commandant of the Civil Defense, and others.
He tallied the results and discovered that Binani had received the most legitimate votes, at which point he declared her the victor of the governor of Adamawa election.
“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 All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani,” Ari wrote in the letter according to Peoples Gazette.
He added: “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 recognized collation officers and my humble self as Adamawa state Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).”
He claimed that after making that statement, PDP-affiliated thugs attacked the other two INEC commissioners for not intervening to change the election results in the incumbent governor’s favor despite taking bribes from his group.
“So, immediately after the declaration, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, and the Returning Officer, Prof. Muhammed Mele, for failing to deliver Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the election after collecting money from him,” Ari said.
He also claimed that one SSS operative who knew about the bribes given to the national commissioners was also overpowered, disarmed, and whisked to the Government House, where he was assaulted by police and “thugs loyal to PDP.”
Ari defended his decision to declare Binani winner of the polls to be well within his rights as contained in the Electoral Act 2022.
“I want to categorically say that my action is within the responsibility vested on me and within the ambit law, particularly of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended,” he said.
Yunusa Ari should turn himself in to the commission or police, who already have a file describing the infractions he committed while performing his job, according to an official statement from INEC spokesman Festus Okoye.
Okoye said: “He should report and answer to the electoral infractions and make his allegations, and it should form part of police investigation.
“The commission is not interested in his ‘fictional letters from hiding.’
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