Suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa-Ari has written a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, denying claim of trying to scuttle a democratic process.
In the four-page letter dated April 20, the suspended Adamawa REC claimed he acted in accordance with the powers conferred on him by the Electoral Act as the Chief Collation Officer in Adamawa State by declaring the candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) as winner of the governorship election in the State.
Ari accused two National Commissioners deployed to the State to supervise the April 15 supplementary election, of collecting bribe from Governor Ahmadu Fintiri to declare him winner of the governorship election in Adamawa State.
He insisted that he tried to “save democracy” by declaring candidate of the APC, Aishatu Dahiru (Binani) as winner of the governorship election, even though it was done before the collation was completed.
Ari also said that he observed as the Chief Collation Officer in the State, that results uploaded on the IREV portal were not signed by him and are therefore null and void.
INEC Chairman, Director General of the DSS and the National Security Advisor were copied in the letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police.
“You may wish to know that there is no better time than now to update the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and all concerned Nigerians on the conduct of the 15th April, 2023 supplementary elections in Adamawa State.
“It is against this background that you sent two National Commissioners, Dr. Baba Bila and Prof. Abdullahi Zuru to assist me in the conduct of the re-run elections in Adamawa State. | hope this was a confirmation that you wanted the Commission to conduct the elections to reflect the collective aspirations of the people of the State.
“At the end of the day, the actions of the two National Commissioners left much to be desired. The Commissioners held a meeting with my management staff in my absence and I did not know the outcome of the meeting and there was a sudden move to tamper with the list of Collation Officers (COs) earlier released for the rerun election.
“On the day of election, before the sensitive and non-sensitive materials were to be distributed across the affected Local Governments and polling units, I received a security report from the Commissioner of Police that Boko Haram insurgents from neighbouring states were recruited by some politicians to cart away sensitive materials and disrupt the elections.
“According to the report, the sensitive materials were not expected to leave the INEC office on the 14th April, 2023 until the day of election, which was on the 15th April, 2023 as shown in the attached photocopy of the letter from the Commissioner of Police, Adamawa State as Annex Al and A2.
“After the first letter from the Police Commissioner, another letter came from Police updating me that the security threat is still high as some Local Government Collation centers will be attacked and as such the Police advise that all collations from Registration Areas (RAs) and Local Government centers should be done at the State level, which was the INEC headquarters Annex, Adamawa State. Attached is the photocopy of the second letter from the Commissioner of Police as Annex B.
“In line with the security advice, I directed the Electoral Officers (EOs) and Local Government Collation officers to ensure that Results Collations should be done at a centralized INEC ANNEX OFFICE IN DOUGIREI, Yola
“However, at this point, the National Commissioners quickly and secretly gave out conflicting counter directives to the EOs that collation should be done in the Local Government Areas with an instruction that NEW LGA COLLATION OFFICERS which | am not aware of will be sent to them.
“This is without my knowledge or authorization as the Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by laws establishing INEC and the Electoral act.
“In the evening, when I was preparing for state collation, all seats for ICCES (Interagency Consultative Committee on election Security) members were set, I got to the place and discovered that my name was replaced with that of the Administrative Secretary to take charge of collation.
“I then asked the National Commissioners to explain why they would exclude me from the process of collating results. But there was no explanation. After some time, the National Commissioners declared that | was nowhere to be found.
“Immediately after the announcement, someone called me and informed me about the development. So around 1:00 am on Sunday 16th April, 2023, I came back to the collation center and saw some people sleeping including the two National Commissioners.
“I addressed them that I was still the Resident Electoral Commissioner and that all stakeholders for the re-run election should return to the collation center by 11:00 am on Sunday, 16th April, 2023.
“It is important to note that while the National Commissioners defiled the security concerns released by the Commissioner of Police, they purportedly did result collation at various locations by their self-appointed, unapproved and illegal collation officers.
“Meanwhile, I received reports that the collations at the various centers left much to be desired.
“So due to the pressure and the numerous calls I received from party agents and candidates of political parties threatening to cause mayhem for not having confidence in the collation of results at the various collation centers as directed by the National Commissioners, I looked inward and decided to call for all the results from the sixty-nine (69) polling units.
“To avert the impending danger of the delay in announcing the results of the supplementary elections, I received the authentic results submitted by the Presiding Officers (POs) from all the sixty-nine polling units and compared them with results that were uploaded on the IREV (INEC portal) and I realized that the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me”.
Speaking further, he said “On 15/04/2023 at about 10:00pm, armed Policemen from the Government House came to my house and placed me under House Arrest to prevent me from conducting my legitimate duties.
“It took the intervention of the Commissioner of Police who sent Mobile Policemen to my house to save the day and when they heard that a call was made to the CP, the Policemen trom Government House fled in a White Toyota Hilux van.
“In view of the time constraint and obvious risk to my life and to conclude the supplementary elections and forestall the breakdown of law and order, I organized a meeting comprising my co-chair, who is the Commissioner of Police, Director of Security Services, Commandant of Civil Defense Corps and others on the way forward.
“As the action of the National Commissioners and threats by political parties over the process of collating results created an atmosphere of violence that almost marred the election, most of the stakeholders were scared and refused to continue with the election process including the Returning Officer (RO).
“I also organized a meeting with the chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, in the person of Mr. Bello Babajo who assured me that he would reach out to all the political parties to calm down the tension and to allow the process to be concluded swiftly.
“It was based on this, that I compiled all the polling unit results and declared the winner of the election based on the highest number of valid votes scored by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani.
“The breakdown was the valid votes scored by the two leading candidates in the supplementary election using the results from the polling units as collated into all relevant Forms EC8B, C,D and E respectively by properly and legally appointed and recognized Collation Officers and my humble self as Adamawa state Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).
“Prior to the declaration, there was an intelligence report made available to me that the two National Commissioners were at the Government House, Yola, at 8:31pm on 15/04/2023 and held a meeting with the State Governor, Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
“So, immediately after the declaration, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru as well as the Returning Officer, Prof. Muhammed Mele for failing to deliver Mr. Anmadu Umaru Fintiri winner in the election after collecting money from him.
“It was also alleged that the people beaten in the purported video wanted to subvert the re-run election in Adamawa State and undermine the will of the Adamawa people as expressed through the ballot.
“A staff of Department of State Services (DSS) on intelligence gathering on the money allegedly given to the National Commissioners was also disarmed, abducted, taken to Government House Yola and assaulted by Police from Government House, Yola and thugs loyal to the PDP.
“In view of the preceding paragraphs, whatever may be collated by the two National Commissioners is shrouded in doubt which is unacceptable and therefore illegal. On my own side, I want to categorically say that my action is within the responsibility vested on me and within the ambit of the law particularly the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.”