Hudu Yunusa Ari, suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has given reasons he controversially announced the Adamawa State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru (Binani), as the winner of the election.
The REC explained his role in a letter sent to the Nigeria Police and also the director-general of the State Security Service (SSS), National Security Adviser (NSA), and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ari, who is in hiding, through the lengthy missive accused two national commissioners, Baba Bila and Abdullahi Zuru, who had been tasked to assist him with the supplementary election on March 15, of secretly working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the results.
According to him, he belatedly uncovered that the INEC officials held secret meetings with Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the Government House Yola at about 8:31 p.m. on Friday, the night before the election, where they perfected plans to change the collation officers and alter the election results.
The legal practitioner said that on election day, the State’s commissioner of police informed him of a plot that exposed how some politicians had hired Boko Haram terrorists to snatch ballot boxes and disrupt the polls.
According to him, in an update the same day, the police said the security threats were still high as the insurgents had planned to attack various local governments to disrupt collation.
He said in the four-page letter that he was advised to move the collation from local government areas to the State’s INEC headquarters, of which he complied and directed all ad-hoc staff conduct collation at the commission’s headquarters office in Dougirei, Yola.
Ari however said he did not realize that the two assisting national commissioners had plans of their own as they “quietly and secretly gave out conflicting counter directives” to the electoral officers, adding that the counter-directives also stated that collation should be done in the local government areas with new local government collation officers that he was “not aware of.”
“This is without my knowledge or authorisation as the Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by laws establishing INEC and Electoral Act,” Yunusa said.
He later discovered that Bila and Zuru allegedly defied his order and quietly collated results at local governments using “self-appointed, unapproved and illegal collation officers.”
The REC furthered that while he was preparing for State collation, he was shocked to learn that his name had not only been excluded but “replaced with that of the administrative secretary to take charge of collation.”
He questioned the assisting national commissioners but got no explanation. Instead, they “declared that I was nowhere to be found.”
Yunusa added that he was placed under house arrest by security officers from the Government House Yola and the police commissioner deployed mobile officers to rescue him.
His words: “It took the intervention of the commissioner of police who sent mobile policemen to my house, and when they heard a call was made to the CP, the policemen from Government House fled in a white Toyota Hilux van.”
But as at 1:00 a.m. on April 16, Ari said he went to the collation centre where Bila and Zuru were resting to remind them he was still the State’s REC and that all stakeholders for the re-run election should return to the collation centre by 11:00 a.m. later that day.
Upon reviewing results uploaded on the INEC results viewing portal, he said he discovered discrepancies as “the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me.”
Ari also alleged that one SSS operative who knew about the bribes given to the national commissioners was also overpowered, disarmed, and whisked to the Government House, where he was assaulted by police and “thugs loyal to PDP.”
He however defended his decision to declare Binani winner of the polls to be well within his rights as contained in the Electoral Act 2022.
“I want to categorically say that my action is within the responsibility vested on me and within the ambit law, particularly of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended,” he said.
Meanwhile, INEC’s spokesman, Festus Okoye, reacting in a statement, said Yunusa Ari should turn himself in to the commission or police, who already have a file outlining the offenses he committed in the line of duty.
Okoye said: “He should report and answer to the electoral infractions and make his allegations, and it should form part of police investigation.
“The commission is not interested in his ‘fictional letters from hiding.’
“If he has a narration, he should make them to the police. Alternatively, he can report to the commission, and the commission will take him to the police.”