Exactly one month after the March 18 governorship elections, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has emerged as the winner of what some might describe as a drama-filled supplementary election in Adamawa State.
In last Saturday’s rerun, Fintiri, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 9,337 votes besting Senator Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who scored 6,513 votes.
At the end of the entire exercise, Fintiri polled 430,861 votes, defeating Binani who got 398,738 votes.
The announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at 5:49 pm on Tuesday was preceded by political intrigue.
With last month’s governorship election declared inconclusive by INEC, a supplementary election was scheduled for last Saturday.
However, on Sunday, as collation was underway, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari, prematurely declared Binani as the winner, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2022 empowers only the returning officer to announce the result and declare the winner of an election at the state collation centre in the case of election of a governor of a state.
Incidentally, results had been declared for only 10 of the 20 local government areas (LGAs) in the supplementary poll, which indicated Fintiri was leading, having won in seven LGAs next to Binani’s three.
The declaration by Ari was quickly followed by an acceptance speech by the APC candidate.
In response, irate opposition members took their anger out on an INEC national commissioner, whom they mistook for the REC, assaulting him.
“A former Vice Chancellor of Usman Dan Fodio University, a senior citizen was stripped naked and dragged. This commission will not allow that to stand,” INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Festus Okoye said in a strongly worded statement.
He also urged the security agencies to unmask those behind the that particular act.
“They must be arrested, they must be investigated and they must be prosecuted. A national commissioner cannot be treated as if he or she is a common criminal,” he said.
INEC Moves Against REC
In a swift response to Binani’s declaration as ‘winner’ of the Adamawa governorship election, INEC said the pronouncement is of no effect.
Consequently, INEC suspended the collation of results of the supplementary election in Adamawa and invited the REC, Returning Officer and all officials involved to report back to the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja.
The electoral body slammed the action of the Adamawa REC, saying it usurped the power of the Returning Officer.
“The attention of the Commission has been drawn to a purported declaration of winner in the Adamawa Governorship election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) even when the process has clearly not been concluded,” INEC said in a statement.
“The action of the Resident Electoral Commission 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.”
The commission ordered Ari to stay away from its office in Adamawa until further notice, adding that its Administrative Secretary in Adamawa had been directed to take full charge of INEC in the state, with immediate effect.
INEC, on Tuesday, said it had resolved to write to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to probe and prosecute Hudu Ari, the Adamawa REC.
The electoral umpire reached the decision when its national commissioners met at the commission’s national headquarters in Abuja earlier in the day over the election in the state.
In a series of tweets, INEC said, “At its meeting today, 18th April 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.”
Similarly, IGP Baba ordered that the Commissioner of Police on election duty in Adamawa, Mohammed Barde, withdraw from the state with immediate effect.
He also ordered that the Commissioner of Police in charge of Gombe State, CP Etim Equa, immediately proceed to Adamawa State for election security in the remainder of the supplementary poll.
Force PRO Adejobi, addressing journalists in Abuja, said the IGP was committed to a free and fair process.
He said, “The IGP has given directive that the commissioner of police on election security in Adamawa State, CP Barde should pull out of Adamawa State and the Commissioner of Police in charge of Gombe State, CP Etim Equa to proceed to Adamawa immediately, to go and supervise election and provide necessary information and ensure that the process is a success.”
On March 20, INEC declared last month’s Adamawa governorship election inconclusive by the INEC state collation officer, Prof Muhammadu Mele, due to the margin of votes.
According to the figures announced, Binani had 390,275 votes, while Fintiri got 421,524 votes.
Mele said, “Elections were not held in 47 wards, affecting 69 polling units. So, this gives us a margin of 31,249. The total number of PVCs collected in places where elections were not held amounted to 37,016.”
He added that “based on these findings and analysis as stated in the electoral laws” where the margin between two candidates was lesser than the total number of collected PVCs in areas where elections were not held, the election was declared inconclusive.