INEC suspends collation of results as desperate REC goes rogue in Adamawa

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the collation of results in Adamawa’s rerun election after the state’s resident electoral commissioner wrongly declared a winner.

Hudu Haruna Ari stoked nationwide confusion when he declared Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru as Adamawa’s governor-elect on Sunday morning without disclosing official figures in line with the electoral process.

“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,” INEC said in a statement on Twitter. “The action of the REC is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer.”

INEC’s chief spokesman Festus Okoye, therefore, said Mr Haruna Ari’s declaration was invalid and summoned him to Abuja immediately.

“It is null, void and of no effect. Consequently, the collation of results of the supplementary election is hereby suspended,’’ the statement added. “The REC, Returning Officer and all involved are hereby invited to the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja immediately.”

Mr Haruna Ari’s action, which was captured on camera, led several media outlets to wrongly report Ms Dahiru as the first female elected governor in Nigeria. Peoples Gazette withheld reporting the news after examining that Mr Haruna Ari’s action did not comply with the electoral law and standard result-declaration procedures of the electoral office.

The rogue officer had sidelined the returning officer Muhammed Mele of the University of Maiduguri, who was not even present when the purported results were announced.

Before a supplementary election was announced for polling units scattered across the state, Mr Mele had said incumbent Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples ˜Democratic Party was ahead of Ms Dahiru by more than 31,000 votes. But he could not declare a winner because the margin was fewer than about 37,000 voter cards collected across polling units where elections did not hold as a result of violence or other negative factors.

Mr Fintiri, who was first elected governor in 2019 on the same party line, polled 421,522 ahead of Ms Dahiru, who garnered 390,275. Ms Dahiru was widely expected to lose the election after yesterday’s supplementary ballot because she was not expected to overcome the 31,000 deficit.

During the initial ballot on March 18, there was a leaked phone conversation in which Mr Haruna Ari could be heard plotting to compromise the election in favour of Ms Dahiru, who has been a longtime contractor with INEC. Mr Haruna Ari denied any wrongdoing following the release of the audio by Sahara Reporters, although it was not clear whether or not the commitment he declared for Ms Dahiru led him to falsely and illegally announce her as the winner, an action now being widely described as a felony.

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