The Peoples Democratic Party or PDP has called for the immediate arrest of Hudu Yunusa, the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) resident electoral officer (REC) in Adamawa State, for illegally declaring the candidate of the All Progressives Congress or APC, Aishatu Binani, as the winner of the state governorship election.
The REC, Hudu Yunusa, had declared Binani the winner as early as 9 am on Sunday, April 16, 2023, two hours before the scheduled commencement of the collation of results.
Recall that on Saturday, Aprile 15, INEC conducted supplementary elections to conclude the state’s governorship election, which INEC earlier declared inclusive following the March 18 polls that failed to produce a winner because the cancelled votes (about 37,000) were slightly higher than the margin (about 31,249) PDP’s Fintiri was leading Binani with.
Fintiri, the incumbent governor seeking reelection, had scored 421,524 votes to lead Binani, who polled 390,275 before the election was declared inconclusive.
PDP believes Yunusa’s declaration of Binani as the winner, even when collation started, was based on calculated attempts to rig the election in APC’s favour, especially when Yunusa was allegedly seen in the company of the police commissioner, Mohammed Barde; the director of the Department of State Services; and commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps when the announcement was made.
By law, the REC is not empowered to declare results. Instead, INEC’s Electoral Act empowers the returning officer, usually an appointed university professor, to declare results after collation.
After the development, INEC headquarters declared Yunusa’s action illegal and summoned him for questioning in the nation’s capital, Abuja. The electoral umpire has also suspended collation until the matter is investigated.
“The attention of the Commission has been drawn to a purported declaration of a winner in the Adamawa Governorship election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) even when the process has clearly not been concluded. The action of the REC is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer. It is null, void and of no effect,” INEC said in a tweet signed by Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, Information & Voter Education.
“Consequently, the collation of results of the supplementary election is hereby suspended. The REC, Returning Officer and all involved are hereby invited to the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja immediately. Detailed statement to follow shortly.”