Thursday, 5th October 2023

Adamawa poll: INEC denies partisanship as Falana urges NBC to sanction NTA

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Terhemba Daka, John Akubo (Abuja) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
21 April 2023   |   5:14 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied favouring any candidate in the recently conducted Adamawa State supplementary election.

Mr. Fintiri and Mrs. Binani – leading candidates in the Adamawa State governorship election

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied favouring any candidate in the recently conducted Adamawa State supplementary election.

It also said there was no nocturnal meeting between its officials and any governorship candidate.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday.

Okoye said the clarification became necessary, following allegation by a candidate that officials undermined the electoral process after a “nocturnal” visit to the government.

It was further alleged that the officials met with one of the candidates in the election who gave them a list of “collation and returning officers” deployed for the election.

Stressing that the Commission does not join issues with partisan actors, particularly where no evidence has been provided, Okoye said no such visit or meeting took place, let alone, the compilation of any purported list of collation and returning officers.

He said such a meeting would have been contrary to the oath of neutrality “we all swore to.”

“Moreover, every conscientious observer would have noticed that the Commission appointed and retained only one Returning Officer for the governorship election, who also doubled as the State Collation Officer for the Presidential Election (SCOPE). Like all Returning Officers nationwide, the Commission issued him with a letter of appointment and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State was duly informed.

“The list of Collation Officers was also forwarded to the state, with every page of the list personally endorsed by the Chairman of the Commission, well ahead of the arrival of National Commissioners,” he added.

Okoye noted that the statement containing the allegation created impression that the national headquarters of the Commission specifically targeted Adamawa State in its deployment of National Commissioners and other officials, with the sole intention of influencing outcome of the supplementary election and sidelining the REC.

Nothing can be further from the truth, Okoye said.

According to him, it has been the standard policy and practice of the Commission to deploy National Commissioners, RECs and other staff from the headquarters or neighbouring states for supplementary or off-cycle elections, where doing so is considered necessary.

He added: “The public is advised to discountenance these insinuations as nothing more than claptrap. We also advise those behind the mischief to desist forthwith, as such fabrications have endangered the lives of our officials (both ad hoc and regular) engaged in legitimate election duties. We expect well-meaning citizens to act within the bounds of propriety and decency.”


This came as human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said the acceptance speech by the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Aisha Binani, confirmed she was complicit in the illegal declaration of results by the Adamawa State REC, Prof. Hudu Yunusa Ari.

He also expressed hope that “the National Broadcasting Commission (would) move in speedily and sanction the NTA because, at that time, collation was still ongoing.”

Ari, having usurped the function of the Chief Returning Officer, had prematurely awarded victory to Binani, even while collation had not been completed.

Falana demanded investigation into an alleged N2 billion inducement trailing the controversial declaration of Binani as winner.

He said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should get involved and ensure rsons who breached the law are prosecuted.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Falana argued that Binani’s denial is not enough, saying, “with respect to the acceptance speech, it already confirmed that she was party to the charade. She has to be brought in by the police and investigated.

“How did you prepare a speech if you did not know that you were going to be declared the winner because, at that stage, the collation had not been concluded?

“The last point is the role of NTA. The NTA televised the acceptance speech. I expect the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to move in speedily and sanction the NTA because, at that time, collation was still ongoing.

“Was there an inducement? That has to be investigated. The officers who were at the high table with Mr. Ari, the Commissioner of Police (CP), the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS)…and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

“All those involved in the criminality that occurred, all have to be tried under the law. It is not enough for the Inspector General of Police to simply redeploy the CP involved or for the DSS Director to be withdrawn from the state.

“The EFCC and the ICPC will have to be brought in to investigate the allegations of inducement.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, approved the immediate suspension from office of the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari, pending the completion of investigation by the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in a statement said, the President also directed the immediate investigation and prosecution, if found liable, of Ari by the IGP.

According to the statement, the President has directed investigation by the IGP, Director-General of the Department of State Services, and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, of the role of their officers in aiding and abetting the conduct/actions of Ari, and if found culpable, appropriate disciplinary actions should be meted out to them.

Labour Party Presidential candidate Peter Obi addressing supporters in Kebbi

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, in a series of tweets on Wednesday night, said the electoral drama in Adamawa State was aimed at provoking Nigerians to violence.

He assured that with hope in God, justice, better and happier years await all Nigerians going through trauma, following the general election.

He added: “We were provoked during the elections, but we showed restraint, patriotism, and wisdom because we were voting for a greater Nigeria and not for the destruction of Nigeria.”

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