Barring further unforeseen circumstances, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will announce the results of the controversial and dramatic Adamawa State governorship election, on Thursday, Vanguard has learned.
The INEC will between Tuesday and Wednesday meet as a “Commission” on the matter, National Commissioner and Chairman of information and Voter Education Committee, Dr Festus Okoye, said.
The Commission had on Monday suspended its Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari for usurping the powers of the Chief Returning Officer and unilaterally returning the All Progressives Congress, APC, Candidate, Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, as duly elected when collation had not been concluded sparking a controversy.
The declaration of election results is the responsibility of the returning officer, and not the resident electoral commissioner. The INEC summoned the REC and Mele Lamido, returning officer in the election, to its headquarters in Abuja.
At the time the REC announced Binani as winner of the poll, results of the supplementary election from 10 LGAs were yet to be collated.
From the results collated on Saturday, Ahmadu Fintiri, Adamawa State governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was in the lead.
Apart from nullifying Yunusa-Ari’s declaration, the commission, yesterday, barred the REC from its office as PDP members and supporters protested in the state and issued the electoral umpire a 72- hour ultimatum to announce the results.
This was as a group of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, described the political drama associated with the supplementary election in Adamawa State as an attempt to derail Nigeria’s democracy and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.
Of the 26 states where governorship polls were held, Adamawa is the only one yet to be concluded. The first election on March 18 was declared inconclusive alongside Kebbi. However, the other supplementary polls were concluded on April 15 while that of Adamawa ran into a fresh crisis following the action of the suspended REC.
INEC to meet Tuesday or Wednesday
Asked when the coalition would resume following the REC’s suspension, Okoye said, “the commission” would have to meet first and fix a date for continuation of the exercise.
A meeting of “the commission” entails a gathering of the INEC Chairman and the 12 national commissioners.
According to Okoye, most of the national commissioners were deployed to the states to monitor last weekend’s supplementary elections, explaining that they were on their way back to Abuja.
“The commission will have to meet as a Commission to take a decision on that. The National Commissioners were deployed in various states. One was sent to Kebbi, one to Oyo, one to Sokoto, another to Rivers and so on. They are on their way to Abuja. If they get to Abuja tonight (Monday), then the commission may likely meet on Tuesday and decide on the date to continue with the collation,” Okoye said.
Sources at the commission, however, said the electoral umpire does not intend to stretch the process further except “legally necessary”, adding that the collation would be concluded before the week runs out in order to douse tension in the state.
Bars REC from Adamawa INEC office
Following Yunusa-Ari’s unilateral action, the INEC has ordered the REC 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.
Part of the letter read: “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.”
Stop this Adamawa show of shame, PDP Govs tell INEC
The Aminu Tambuwal-led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governors’ Forum, has condemned what it described as the ongoing show of shame in Adamawa State over the governorship election.
The PDP GF urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to put a stop to the dangerous show by purging itself of corrupt and clearly partisan members of staff.
This demand was contained in a statement signed by the forum’s Director General, Mr. C.I.D. Maduabum, in Abuja, late on Monday.
The PDP governors said: “The attempted electoral heist and brigandage perpetrated by the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barrister Hudu Yunusa, is perhaps the lowest point of the 2023 general elections.
“ We commend the immediate steps taken by the INEC as an institution to recover its battered image by nullifying the attempted coup and suspending the REC.
“The appropriate Returning Officer, Mele Lamido, should immediately conclude the collation and declare the result.
“One of the most important lessons of this election season is that the integrity of INEC personnel is crucial to free, fair, and credible elections as well as deployment of technology.
“Going forward, there should be a deliberate process of revisiting the appointments of National and Resident Electoral Commissioners to weed out corrupt and extremely partisan officials. It is the partisan method of appointment of these officials that led to national disgrace in Adamawa State.
“Appropriate sanctions, including prosecution of all those involved, especially the former Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barrister Hudu Yunusa, should be swiftly commenced to serve as an example to others.
“We enjoin all Nigerians to be on alert as we brace up to emerging threats to our democracy and the struggle for good governance in Nigeria.”
PDP supporters protest, demand announcement of poll result
Meanwhile, members of the PDP in Adamawa, yesterday, demonstrated over the governorship election and gave INEC 72 hours to announce the result.
The protesters, who marched through the streets of Yola, the state capital, held placards that read: “Adamawa is not for sale;” “INEC the world is watching;” “ Enough of supplementary saga”; and “INEC declare the Adamawa governorship results now or never, we can no longer wait any longer” and “Adamawa REC must go” among others, said PDP supporters would be forced to take a decisive action after the expiration of the ultimatum.
Speaking with reporters during the protest, Felix Tangwami, deputy director-general of the PDP campaign council in Adamawa, said the electoral commission should conclude the election and announce Fintiri as the winner.
Fintiri’s first term in office expires on May 29.
Mr Tangwami accused the REC of being partisan in the decision to declare the APC candidate winner of the election even as the process of election was still ongoing.
Tangwami who led the protest march to INEC said the PDP and its supporters had been pushed to the wall over the issue.
CSOs urge Buhari to intervene
Also, the CSOs called for the immediate arrest of Aishatu Binani, Adamawa REC, Commissioner of Police, Director DSS, and NSCDC commandant for allegedly “staging a coup against democracy.”
In a statement issued by Mada Ibrahim and Michael Ayuba James on, the CSOs said: “In the face of the coup d’etat against democracy by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani, Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), State commissioner of police, Director State Security and his counterpart of National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) we the concerned civil society organizations (CSOs) do hereby urge President Muhammadu Buhari, to as a matter of urgency, direct the arrest of the above mentioned anti-democratic forces for treason and constitutional mischief.
“As a full-blown democrat, this call has become incumbent on President Muhammadu Buhari in order to save Nigeria’s nascent democracy from being supplanted by desperate conspirators for their self-serving and whimsical proclivities”.
The group said democracy, especially in Adamawa State, “will continue to be under serious threats if the mentioned elements are not duly prosecuted in line with Nigeria’s extant rules for treason.”
The statement read in part: “The president whom we know for his towering credentials and integrity should not allow some few individuals to truncate our hard-earned democracy because doing that is archetypal to allowing them to rubbish all his efforts at ensuring a credible electioneering process at the twilight of his exit from power.”
“In this respect we want to acknowledge the decisive role played by the headquarters of INEC, which wielded the big stick against their erring REC by calling off his bluff and maintained the narrow path of honour and truth.”
“We urge INEC to as a matter of urgency order the arrest and prosecution of the REC so as to serve as deterrent to others and to also assert that the electoral umpire is truly independent.”
“We are constrained to call on Mr. President to constitute a full blown inquest into the sordid happening with a view to prevent future ugly occurrences.”
“We noted with concern how a senior lawmaker Senator Aishatu Binani chose to ignore all the illegality shrouded in declaring her Governor-Elect and gave an acceptance speech.”
“The speed at which the speech was read immediately after the illegal declaration shows that the whole sordid act of rascality was premeditated and perfected among the conspirators of doom.”
“We hereby call for her immediate arrest and questioning in order to ascertain what actually transpired. Aishatu Binani should be questioned for giving an acceptance speech after being declared Governor Elect illegally.”
“Similarly, by giving acceptance speech, Binani has participated in an attempt albeit illegally to remove a sitting governor, she should therefore be disqualified from participating in any future polls”.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police, the Commandant of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corp and the Department For State Security to launch a probe into why senior officers from these security agencies accompanied Mr. Ari Hudu to INEC centre where he illegally made the announcement.”
“In the same vein, we are aware that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission deployed to the state have displayed gross incompetence, partiality and favouritism all geared towards suppressing the wishes of Adamawa voters in order to make Binani the Governor of Adamawa State by hook or by crook.”