Fleeing Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Yunusa Ari has broken his silence while in hiding.
According to Peoples Gazette, Hudu explained why he controversially announced the Adamawa State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aisha Dahiru Binani, as the winner of the election.
He spoke in a letter he sent to the Nigeria Police and also copied the director-general of the State Security Service (SSS), National Security Adviser (NSA), and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In the letter, the REC, who is in hiding, 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.
Yunusa Ari, a legal practitioner, said 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.
Aru said that on election day, the state’s commissioner of police furnished him with findings 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 he was then advised to move the collation from local government areas to the state’s INEC headquarters, he said in the four-page letter.
The electoral commissioner said he quickly complied and directed that all ad-hoc staff conduct collation at the commission’s headquarters office in Dougirei, Yola.
He 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 said 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 Ari 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.”
Ari explained 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.”
He said he was placed under house arrest by security officers from the Government House Yola, and the police commissioner deployed mobile officers to rescue him.
Ari said: “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.”
Around 1:00 a.m. on April 16, Yunusa Ari said he went to the collation centre where Bila and Zuru had been sleeping 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.
The suspended REC said upon reviewing results uploaded on the INEC IREV portal; he discovered discrepancies as “the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me.”
Ari said he summoned a meeting of security chiefs, including the police commissioner, SSS, commandant of the Civil Defence, and others, to conclude the supplementary elections and prevent a breakdown of law and order.
After compiling the results, he found Binani to be the candidate with the most valid votes and subsequently declared her winner of the Adamawa governorship elections.
“It was based on this that I compiled all the polling unit results and declared the winner of the election based on the highest number of valid votes scored by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani,” Ari wrote in the letter according to Peoples Gazette.
He added: “The breakdown of the valid votes scored by the two leading candidates in the supplementary election using the results from the polling units as collated into all relevant Forms EC8B, C, D, and E respectively by properly and legally appointed and recognized collation officers and my humble self as Adamawa state Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).”
He said his declaration led thugs loyal to the PDP to descend on the two other INEC commissioners for failing to alter the election results to favour the incumbent governor despite accepting bribes from his team.
“So, immediately after the declaration, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, and the Returning Officer, Prof. Muhammed Mele, for failing to deliver Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the election after collecting money from him,” Ari said.
He also claimed 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.”
Ari 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.
Reacting in a statement, INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye, 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.”