Tuesday, 3rd October 2023
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Adamawa poll: Fintiri laughs last, reckless REC faces prosecution

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Odita Sunday, Adamu Abuh, Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja), Emmanuel Samaila (Yola) and Timothy Agbor (Osogbo)
19 April 2023   |   4:15 am
At exactly 5:48p.m. yesterday, governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, heaved a sigh of relief when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner of the Adamawa governorship election, a long drawn battle since March 18 that took a dramatic turn on Sunday, April 16.


• Fintiri commends supporters, INEC, journalists, others for defending democracy
• Adeleke congratulates Fintiri, hails feat as triumph of democracy 
• Court ignores Binani’s motion on election tussle
• IGP replaces CP on election duty in Adamawa over alleged unprofessionalism
• Investigate, prosecute Adamawa REC, PDP, YIAGA Africa tell IGP

At exactly 5:48p.m. yesterday, governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, heaved a sigh of relief when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner of the Adamawa governorship election, a long drawn battle since March 18 that took a dramatic turn on Sunday, April 16.

The uncertainty that surrounded the tension-soaked exercise ended after Fintiri, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was returned as the elected governor of the state, for a second term. He polled 430,861 votes to defeat his fiercest challenger, Senator Aishatu Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who got 398,788 votes.

INEC had after Sunday’s drama resumed collation of Saturday’s supplementary election results yesterday. The collation had been suspended on Sunday, following unlawful declaration of Binani as winner of the election by the now suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari.

Present at the INEC state collation centre for the resumed exercise on Tuesday were National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, and the returning officer, Prof. Mohammed Mele, among others.

In his acceptance speech, Fintiri commended INEC, journalists, international communities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for standing tall and strong to defend democracy.

To his supporters, he said: “Even though the first leg of the election was declared inconclusive, you remained resolute but peaceful in the face of provocative triggers that would have otherwise landed us into flames.

“You maintained decorum and order. You demonstrated restrain and civility. You waited patiently for INEC to announce the date for the rerun election in the affected areas. And when it finally did, you went out undeterred again to conclude the process.

“Just when everyone was ready to reconvene by 11:00a.m. to take the remaining result of the 10 Local Government Areas, the enemies of democracy led by the REC, emerged two hours before the appointed time to deliver the worst subversion of a democratic process ever known to mankind and what could best be described as provocative and an insult to the collective sensibility of the people.

“In the midst of all these, as your leader, I remained calm and appealed for same from you. A call you appreciatively hearkened to. Once again, you have brought out our stoic and spartan spirit as Adamawa people to bare. For this, I can’t thank you enough.”

Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, felicitated with his Adamawa counterpart, Fintiri, describing his re-election as “historic triumph of democracy.”

Reacting to the declaration of Fintiri as winner of the hotly contested poll, Adeleke expressed gladness that Adamawa was rescued from the path of anarchy orchestrated by anti-democratic forces.

While praying for a successful tenure for Fintiri, Adeleke described the Adamawa governor as a true democrat who from beginning to the end of the struggle, relied on people’s power to assert, and regain his electoral mandate from ‘electoral thieves. ’

In a related development, a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to hear an ex-parte motion filed by Binani. Justice Inyang Ekwo, instead, ordered the APC candidate’s counsel, Mohammed Sheriff, to address the court on issue of jurisdiction before hearing the substantive motion.

Upon resumed hearing on the matter, Afeez Matomi, announced appearance for Fintiri, the third respondent in the suit. Justice Ekwo then asked Matomi if he had been served.

The lawyer told the court that though they were yet to be served, they had filed a motion to counter-part of Binani’s prayers. He said they got the hint about the ex-parte motion through social media, hence, they decided to file a motion.

But the judge, who declined to listen to Fintiri’s lawyer, said it was imperative for counsel to go by what the law says. Ekwo then ordered Sheriff to proceed on addressing the court.

Justice Ekwo, who ordered Sheriff to address him on whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter, held that the application would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date. He, consequently, adjourned the matter until April 26 for hearing of the motion, and an address on jurisdiction.

Earlier, following controversies arising from the now concluded Adamawa election, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has withdrawn the Commissioner of Police on election duty in the state, Mohammed Barde, with immediate effect.
The Guardian gathered that his removal may be linked to ‘unprofessional behaviour’ during the collation drama. The IGP also ordered that the Commissioner of Police in charge of Gombe State, CP Etim Equa, immediately proceed to Adamawa for election security duties.
Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, while addressing pressmen in Abuja, said the IGP is committed to a free and fair process.
Adejobi also said the IGP was yet to receive any letter from INEC seeking the probe and prosecution of its compromised REC in Adamawa.
INEC had reportedly asked the IGP to prosecute the embattled REC. The Commission also requested the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to draw the attention of the appointing authority to the unwholesome behaviour of the REC for further action. 

This was contained in a terse statement issued by the Commission at the end of its emergency management meeting yesterday. Ari had been under fire for usurping the duties of the state governorship election returning officer by announcing Binani as winner of the election on Sunday.

The PDP has asked INEC and the Nigeria Police Force to expedite actions towards investigating and prosecuting Ari. Briefing journalists at its national secretariat in Abuja, PDP’s acting national chairman, Umar Damagum, also asked the IGP to initiate disciplinary actions against the police commissioner in Adamawa, Afolabi Adeniyi, for allegedly protecting Ari.

The PDP chairman warned that the delay might lead to breakdown of law and order in Adamawa.  Also, an election observer, YIAGA Africa, has demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of Ari over alleged committal of gross misconduct, insubordination, and fraud. Besides, the body enjoined the authorities to probe into the attacks on two of INEC’s National Commissioners deployed to oversee the supplementary elections in Adamawa, and ensure perpetrators are made to face the wrath of justice.

YIAGA Africa, in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Watching The Vote Working Group, and its Executive Director, Dr, Hussain Abdu, and Samson Itodo, respectively, condemned the illegal declaration of Binani as governor-elect mid-way into the exercise.

It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate to initiate the removal proceedings against the Adamawa REC in defence of the Constitution, independence of INEC, and overall integrity of the electoral process. 


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