Fintiri hails arrest of ‘fleeing’ Adamawa REC two weeks after
• IGP: Other fingered officials under interrogation • Ari: No regrets announcing Binani winner
• IPAC seeks revisit of Uwais report as police move to hand over offenders’ case files to INEC
Following the arrest of ‘runaway’ Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari, by the police two weeks after he controversially announced the result of rerun election in Adamawa, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has hailed the arrest as a welcome development, noting it remained an important first step in upholding the rule of law.
Fintiri, who spoke through his Director General of Media and Communications, Government House Yola, Solomon Kumangar, also asked the authorities concerned to ensure diligent prosecution of the case to its logical conclusion.
In a statement, Fintiri described the failed electoral heist as a civilian coup that must not conform to the narratives of the nation’s “penchant for impunity and circumvention of the rule of law.”
The governor said the news of Ari’s arrest had reassured aggrieved citizens that justice would take its full course. He said: “Our demands as have been reiterated over and over again is for justice to run its full course and for everyone involved in this electoral heist of the ignoble declaration of a failed candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as winner when the collation of results was yet to be concluded, to face the full wrath of the law.”
The governor noted that all the while that Ari had remained at large, he had continued to do more harm than good.
“As far as Governor Fintiri is concerned, the arrest of Ari is good news. So long as he is at large, he has continued to sow the embers of discord, misinformation and half truths about the real motives for his actions and his ignominious role in the sad event of April 16 April, where he tried with the assistance of compromised security agents, including the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde; DSS Director Bulama and NSCDC Commandant to force an unpopular choice on the citizens of Adamawa by way of a ‘civilian coup’.”
The police had confirmed Ari’s arrest yesterday in a statement by the force spokesman, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi. Adejobi said: “The Nigeria Police Force hereby confirms the arrest of Ari following calls for his arrest and investigation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the basis of alleged impropriety in the course of the supplementary gubernatorial polls in Adamawa State.
“Ari, who was arrested by the Police Election Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Team in Abuja on Tuesday, is currently in custody and is being grilled to ascertain the motives and motivations behind his alleged improper actions during the supplementary elections in Adamawa. In addition, the team is interrogating other officials and individuals culpable in the saga.
“The Inspector-General of Police has given clear assurance that every individual involved/indicted in the matter will be apprehended and investigated in line with the provisions of the law for possible prosecution, as all guilty parties will be brought to justice.”
EARLIER, the suspended REC had said he never regretted announcing Aisha Binani Dahiru of APC as the winner of the election. Speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa yesterday, Ari maintained that he acted in accordance with relevant laws in declaring the APC candidate as the governor-elect of the state before the national headquarters of the electoral body in Abuja overturned the declaration.
The embattled REC sparked controversy after he announced Binani as the winner of the supplementary election in Adamawa on April 15, while collation of results was still ongoing. INEC nullified Ari’s declaration and suspended him, while President Muhammadu Buhari ordered full investigation of the REC and security officers that were around him when he made the declaration.
The electoral body subsequently concluded the election and announced the incumbent governor, Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the authentic winner of the drama-filled poll. Security agencies had also been ordered to arrest and prosecute the embattled REC whose whereabouts had been unknown since the controversy started over two weeks ago.
Speaking from hiding with BBC Hausa, Ari said: “I never demanded any gratification from either Binani or Fintiri. None of the duo sent anything to me; if they have done so, by now they will be demanding their money back.”
Asked why he announced Binani as ‘winner’ in the first instance, the embattled REC said: “Votes polled by candidates were disclosed, I don’t have the papers with me here, but both in the main and supplementary elections, Binani scored 428,173 while Fintiri got 422,303 votes.
“I have no regrets at all as I acted under the law; it is the law that warranted what I did and it shall absolve me. I will surely turn myself in to the police. Before, there was no summon from the police but now there is one. I will soon come out from hiding.”
MEANWHILE, following the conduct of the general elections, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has called for a sincere implementation of some of the recommendations contained in the
Justice Muhammadu Uwais Electoral Reforms Report, 2008. Similarly, the IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, has directed state Commissioners of Police to tidy up their case files on electoral offenders in the general elections for onward submission to INEC for prosecution.
Speaking yesterday at a one-day conference on “Political Parties, 2023 Elections and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria” organised by the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Abuja, IPAC national chairman, Yabagi Sani, said the recommendations of the Uwais report are adjudged the best proposals to ensure Nigerian elections no longer have credibility issues.
Recall that the late President Umaru Yara’adua in 2008 after admitting that the election he won the previous year was flawed, set up a committee headed by Justice Uwais to look at what was wrong with the nation’s electoral system and recommend solutions.
The committee had made several recommendations, one of which is the removal of the power to appoint the head of INEC from the President. While noting that INEC had been under ‘state capture’, Sani said the manner in which appointments of key officials in the commission are done leaves much to be desired.
On prosecution of electoral offenders, the IGP, who was represented at the event by the Commissioner of Police in charge of Election Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Basil Idegwu, said while case files of electoral offenders would be handed over to INEC, the police is already prosecuting those who committed other offenses on election day.
“We want to commend all those who made the election a reality and for the role they played, especially the security and intelligence agencies who worked closely with the police, in ensuring that the mandate of securing the election was carried out successfully.
“The Inspector General of Police has instructed the commissioners of police to tidy up their case files and then forward those case files of electoral offenders to INEC office for prosecution and, those who committed other offenses will be prosecuted by the police and that is already in progress at the moment.”
On his part, Director General, NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, observed that trust and cooperation among political parties in Nigeria is imperative to reform the party system and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
Saying that the 2023 Elections was probably the most keenly contested and highly divisive election since the advent of democracy in 1999, he said the election brought to fore a lot of issues that need to be addressed to strengthen the nation’s democracy.
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