By Akombo Aondona, Abuja
The supplementary election held in Adamawa on Saturday, 15 April, 2023 to determine the winner of the state’s governorship election has ran into a huge crisis as confusion trailed the exercise on Sunday 16 April, 2023.
It is safe to say that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa, Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari, set the ball rolling for the bedlam on the day midway into the collation of results.
Sources told The Dream Daily Newspaper that results from pockets of wards in 10 local governments had so far been declared and another 10 local government expected when Yunusa-Ari allegedly halted proceedings and declared that all results have come in and that the All Progressives Congress (APC) Candidate, Hajiya Aisha Binani, had polled the highest votes, and promptly went ahead to declare her winner of the poll without providing any figures to back up the declaration.
Expectedly, an uproar erupted in the collation centre, especially from the agents and supporters of the incumbent Governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate in the election, Ahmadu Umar Fintiri, but Yunusa-Ari walked out of the collation centre under heavy security escort.
The development sent ripples across the state and there were reports of youth gathering to launch a protest, even arming themselves.
However, rumours soon filtered into town that Yunusa-Ari has been arrested over the declaration, which seemed to calm frayed nerves.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) soon jumped into the fray, first via a tweet on its official Tweeter handle to nullify Yunusa-Ari’s declaration, summoning him and the returning officer – who curiously did not feature in the nullified declaration – to Abuja.
In an official statement backing the tweet, INEC, through its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voters Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, wrote:
“The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to the purported declaration of winner in the Adamawa State Governorship election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
“The action of the REC is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer and therefore null, void and of no effect. Consequently, the collation of the result of the supplementary election held yesterday 15th April 2023 is suspended forthwith.
“The REC for Adamawa State and all other officials involved in the process are hereby directed to report immediately to INEC headquarters in Abuja.
“Meanwhile, the Commission is deeply disturbed by the harassment of our two National Commissioners deployed to the State to ensure a peaceful and credible supplementary election. We urge the security agencies to provide them with necessary security and ensure that nothing untoward befalls them. The two National Commissioners, the Returning Officer and other staff of the Commission must be allowed to perform their duties without let or hinderance.
“The Commission will not condone any act of lawlessness or brigandage targetted at our officials or the process.”
Strangely, Hajiya Binani has been seen in viral videos purportedly delivering her acceptance speech as the governor-elect.
The Adamawa development brings back echoes of past elections in the country, particularly during the first eight years of the President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) when winners were unilaterally announced even when collation was inconclusive or ongoing.
When the governorship election was declared inconclusive by INEC in March, Fintirin had 421,524 votes and Binani was on 390,275 votes.