The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have been mortified by the action of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Adamawa State, Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari, who on Sunday, 16 April, 2023 called the state governorship election in favour of Hajiya Aisha Binani of the All Progressives Congress (APC), when collation of results from the supplementary poll was reportedly ongoing and unconcluded.
Consequently, sources in both Abuja where Yunusa-Ari had been summoned by the INEC hierarchy and ground zero of the electoral standstill – Yola – have told The Dream Daily Newspaper on condition of anonymity that INEC was determined to clean up the soiled image of the commission by following due process in concluding the collation of the Adamawa election and declaring the result “whichever way it goes, without fear or favour to any candidate.”
Accordingly, sources told The Dream Daily Newspaper that the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led national leadership of INEC had reviewed the Adamawa situation and directed that “the Electoral Act be followed to the letter in concluding the Adamawa election”.
While it remained unclear whether INEC would remove Yunusa-Ari and appoint a temporary REC to conclude the election – a possibility which legality divides lawyers who spoke with The Dream Daily Newspaper concerning this – it was learnt that a return to Adamawa by all dramatis personae involved in the election “is the only legal route to resolve the imbroglio”.
A source stated: “INEC has ordered all parties to return to Adamawa and conclude the process. We followed up on them (INEC) up to Abuja. There is no way that illegality would stand. The remaining local governments must be collated and added to the figures we have already. Then is when the returning officer, not REC, would announce the final figures. Then the REC is bound by that to announce the winner. We have been assured that INEC will do it, do the needful. And we are going back to Adamawa to finish it. That kangaroo, illegal declaration by REC will not stand.”
Another source disclosed that the Adamawa Returning Officer, Mele Lamido, has distanced himself from Yunusa-Ari, who was allegedly induced with a huge sum to make his unilateral declaration, which INEC promptly declared illegal, null and void. According to the Electoral Act, Lamido is empowered by law to declare the winner of the election and not the REC.
Sources in Adamawa disclosed that a vigilante action by aggrieved youth was launched against officials connected with the collation, with a deputy director of the Department of State Services and a high-ranking INEC officials reportedly mobbed in Yola.
However, calm has reportedly returned to the Adamawa capital city.
Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate among legal practitioners whether Yunusa-Ari’s declaration has not sealed the fate of Governor Umar Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)and validated Hajiya Binani’s election as governor.