*INEC voids action, summons officials to Abuja
*There’s plot to undermine democracy, provoke violence, says Atiku
*No one should take laws into their hands, Fintiri warns
*PDP, BoT declare mandate can’t be stolen
*It’s a naked dance of shame, SDP candidate retorts
Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Segun James in Lagos and Daji Sani in Yola
In a rather depressing point of electoral rascality widely seen as more disappointing than any situation in the past, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa, in the early hours of Sunday, declared the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, as winner of the state governorship election.
Adamawa State Commissioner of Police and the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the state, curiously, provided cover for the REC during the fake declaration of Binani’s victory. It is another instance of security agencies’ connivance to undermine free, fair and credible electoral process in the country.
But INEC, yesterday, described as null, void, and of no effect the declaration of Binani as winner of the governorship election. The commission also summoned the REC, Returning Officer (RO), and other officials involved in the false declaration of Binani’s victory to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja. This followed the heat the declaration had generated.
Binani was declared winner of the poll by Yunusa midway into collation of Saturday’s supplementary election results. The supplementary poll was held to conclude the March 18 governorship election.
But the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, called the attention of Nigerians to what he saw as a plan to upturn the democratic wishes of the people of Adamawa State in the governorship election. Atiku alleged that there was a plan to undermine democracy and provoke crisis.
However, the governorship candidate of PDP and incumbent governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, called on citizens of the state to remain peaceful and law-abiding, warning that no one should take laws into their hands.
In its own reaction, PDP, yesterday, called on the people of Adamawa State, Nigerians, and the international community to disregard the purported declaration of Binani as winner of the governorship election. The party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) also said the mandate given to PDP by the people of the state could not be stolen.
But the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in the state, Dr. Umar Ardo, described the process of the rerun poll so far as a “naked dance of shame in the market place.”
Nonetheless, the Department of Security Services (DSS) said it had commenced investigation into a viral video, which seemed to show a man suspected to be a staff of the agency, being manhandled by angry youths in the aftermath of the controversial announcement of the winner of the Adamawa State election.
INEC had earlier declared the governorship election in Adamawa State inconclusive. Fintiri of PDP was at the time leading with 421,524 votes while Binani trailed with 390,275 votes.
At the end of the official tally of results, Fintiri led Binani with a margin of over 30,000 votes. But the commission said the cancelled votes were more than the margin of victory between them.
In the process of the supplementary election on Saturday, Yunusa declared Binani winner of the poll, a development that immediately sparked angry reactions.
However, INEC National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, in a statement, described the action of the REC as a usurpation of the power of the RO. The commission suspended the collation of results of the supplementary election in the state, and summoned the REC, RO, and others involved to Abuja.
Okoye said in the statement, “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.
“The action of the REC 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 REC, Returning Officer and all involved are hereby invited to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja immediately.”
Meanwhile, the commission expressed worry over the harassment of two of its National Commissioners deployed to the state to ensure a peaceful and credible supplementary election. It urged the security agencies to provide them with necessary security and ensure that nothing untoward befell them.
INEC noted that the two National Commissioners, the Returning Officer and other staff of the commission must be allowed to perform their duties without let or hindrance, warning that it would not condone any act of lawlessness or brigandage targeted at its officials or the process.
Atiku: There’s Plot to Undermine Democracy, Provoke Violence
Presidential candidate of PDP in the 2023 general election, Atiku Abubakar, alleged plans to upturn the democratic wishes of the people of Adamawa State in the governorship election in the state. Atiku said the plan was to undermine democracy and provoke violence.
In a press release by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, Atiku said the initial decision of the REC in the state to declare the APC candidate, Binani, as winner of the election was a case study to the shambolic nature of the 2023 elections in general.
The former vice president stated, “Here in Adamawa, we are witnesses to a novel practice in election management where a Resident Electoral Commissioner announced the loser of an election as a winner. It is not in doubt that INEC has approached the Adamawa State election with a pre-set agenda of declaring the APC at all costs.
“It is, therefore, on this note that we wish to call the attention of the world to the scheme being perpetrated by INEC to compromise the electoral wishes of the people of Adamawa State. We also wish to inform the world that such behaviour by INEC has a natural consequence of unsettling the peace and security of the society.
“We have seen how INEC conducted the February 25 and March 18 elections against the run of play and challenged cheated candidates to go to the court, knowing full well the agenda that they are up to.
“It must be put on record that the people of Adamawa State will not allow themselves to be cheated three times in a row. It must also be put on record that whatever the consequences of the scheme being scripted, both the INEC and those vested with state powers should be blamed for the consequences of such actions.
“That the APC candidate has a prepared acceptance speech is a pointer to the guarantee of a false victory which the INEC must have promised her.
“Recall that this was the same Resident Electoral Commissioner, who pressured the Returning Officer to manipulate the results of the contentious Fufore Local Government Area in the March 18 governorship election. The people of Adamawa shall not allow this injustice to pass without being challenged.
“It is our demand that the Adamawa REC and any other parties complicit in this treasonable act should be arrested immediately and prosecuted to the full extent of the law to serve as a deterrent to anti-democratic forces, who may want to torpedo our democracy and provoke violence in our country.”
Fintiri: Nobody Should Take Law into His or her Hands
Governorship candidate of PDP and incumbent Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, called on citizens of the state to remain calm and law-abiding. Fintiri warned residents not to take laws into their hands.
The governor, yesterday, convened a press conference at the Yola Government House to address the controversial declaration of Binani as winner of the governorship election in the state. He said he trusted that the world was watching the enemies of democracy at the height of their shameless brigandage.
Fintiri said at the press conference, “Fellow citizens of Adamawa State, this morning, we all woke up to an illegal announcement by merchants of anarchy headed by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mallam Hudu Yunusa Ari, who since the beginning of this election, is bent on pushing our collective patience to its limit.
“Nobody should take the law into their hands. Let’s peacefully await the next directive from INEC believing that they do know that the integrity of the commission is on test. Thank you for your resilience and resolve to not only exercise your democratic rights but to also protect it. We are on this until justice is done.
“Fellow citizens, once again, I call on everyone to remain peaceful and law-abiding trusting that the world is watching the enemies of democracy at the height of their shameless brigandage.”
The governor assured the citizens, “It is on record that we went to the polls for the first round of the election on 18th of March, 2023. Even when it was apparent that I was coasting home to victory, this same gang aided the confusion that rendered the election inconclusive.
“As civilised citizens, who were committed to democratic ethos, we accepted the situation in good faith and prepared for the rerun. Yesterday, Saturday, 15th – April, the rerun was held peacefully across the state.
“The appropriate officers commenced the process of the collation. The first round of the collation went well with 11 LGAs collated, before the process was adjourned to continue today 16th April at 11.00 a.m.
“Just when we were waiting for the resumption of the collation, the REC this morning took up a task, he is not constitutionally empowered to do by making an illegal announcement of the outcome of the election without result. This action is, no doubt, provocative, but in this situation, I appeal for calm as always. I assure you that as your leader, I will ensure nobody thwarts your democratic rights.
“The independent National electoral Commission has demonstrated its umpire status by first distancing itself from the act of the REC and assured that the right thing will be done. The right thing in this context is the conclusion of the collation at the designated location and the declaration of a winner by the Returning Officer in the person of Professor Mele Kyari.”
PDP, BoT Say Adamawa’s Mandate Can’t Be Stolen
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Board of Trustees (BoT), yesterday, called on the people of Adamawa State, Nigerians and the International Community to disregard the declaration of Binani as winner of the election, saying the people’s mandate cannot be stolen.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said, “it is even more absurd that the Adamawa State REC did not only usurp the powers of the Returning Officer but attempted to declare a winner without figures in reckless violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC Guidelines as well as the sensibility of the people of Adamawa State.”
“This reprehensible criminal conduct of the Adamawa State REC confirms the earlier alarms by the PDP, which demanded for his immediate removal from Adamawa State following evidence of his complicity and being compromised by the APC and its candidate to manipulate the election in their favour notwithstanding the votes by the people of Adamawa State.
“Mallam Yunusa Ari’s action is subversive and calculated to cause crisis in Adamawa State, destabilise our democracy and peaceful co-existence as a nation. We call on the Inspector General of Police to immediately arrest Mallam Yunusa Ari and make him face the full wrath of the law for his conduct.”
The BoT, in a statement by its acting chairman, Senator Adolphus Wabara, stated, “With due respect to the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC guidelines regarding the 2023 electoral process, Nigerians watched in dismay the display of disregard to the rule of law by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, in person of Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari.
“Accompanied by security officials, and without following due process contained in the INEC guidelines and the Electoral Act, the REC took it on himself to assume responsibility for declaring results and hurriedly declared a winner in the Adamawa supplementary elections as results collation were still on-going for 10 LGAs.
“So far, results from the collated 10 LGAs indicated that the PDP was still in clear lead over the closest contestant. This open disregard for the rule of law is a pointer that the electoral commission is compromised from within and Nigerians are expecting INEC to act justly as a neutral entity with respect to the supplementary elections taking place in Adamawa and other states in Nigeria.
“With the plethora of controversies surrounding the general elections so far, we call upon INEC to ensure that the outcome of the supplementary elections is not added to the list of controversial elections conducted by the body.
“We also call upon members of our great party, PDP, to remain law-abiding and calm as we continue to follow developments from the supplementary elections to ensure that the will of the people of Adamawa state is not thwarted by the few who have no regard for the law.”
Meanwhile, INEC declared Governor Aminu Tambuwal winner of the Sokoto South senatorial district in the supplementary election.
Declaring the results, the Returning Officer, Professor Abdullahi Bagudo, said Tambuwal of the PDP polled one hundred and eighty thousand, sixty votes to defeat the candidate of APC, who scored ninety five thousand and eighty six votes.
Bagudo said Tambuwal, having satisfied the requirements of the law, was declared winner of the election, and returned elected.
But shortly after announcing the result, police fired teargas to stop angry supporters, who started destroying vehicles at the collation centre.
It’s Naked Dance of Shame, Declares SDP Candidate
Governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo, described the rerun process as a “naked dance of shame in the market place.”
According to Ardo, “The current imbroglio is testimony to that. Based on various irregularities perpetrated by the Peoples Democracy (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates during the two sets of governorship election in Adamawa State, the untoward desperation and actions of the PDP and APC candidates, in addition to the excessive vote-buying observed, the unlawful declaration of the APC candidate by the Adamawa REC and her instant acceptance speech, both of which proved the existence of an unholy close coalition of the two.
“The ensuing total confusion created by the two candidates in the election exercises, INEC and the security agencies in the state, all have combined to make a mess of the ensuing fallout in the election results, thereby eroding the credibility and, therefore, the acceptability of the entire election results in the state.
“By extension, it will also threaten the credibility of our national electoral process and the integrity of INEC itself as an electoral umpire. These are clear illustrations of expensive electoral jokes getting out of hand, capable of marring the entire 2023 national elections if drastic action is not taken by INEC to arrest the situation.
“To this end, therefore, because of the unedifying roles played by the PDP and APC candidates in discrediting the elections and the electoral process as a whole and in bringing to disrepute the integrity of the commission, we call upon INEC to consider approaching the Federal High Court to disqualify the two culprit candidates, cancel the entire process and conduct fresh election for the remaining qualified candidates in the governorship contest.”
DSS Probes Attack on Staff over Adamawa Guber Rerun Poll
Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday, commenced investigation into a viral video seeming to show a man suspected to be a staff of the agency, being manhandled by angry youths as fallout of the false announcement of the winner of the Adamawa election.
The victim of the youth anger was seen in the video claiming he was given N2 billion to rig the election.
But a statement by the spokesman of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, said the agency had commenced a probe of the incident.
The statement said, “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to a trending video on the social media in which someone suspected to be its staff was allegedly manhandled by some political miscreants in Adamawa State.
“This followed developments arising from the supplementary governorship election in the state. The service wishes to inform the public that it has commenced a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident. While calling for calm, the service also implores concerned parties in Adamawa State to remain peace-loving and shun violence.”