Drama in Adamawa state as REC ‘fights’ RO over Binani’s declaration as winner
Drama ensued yesterday in Adamawa as the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Yunusa Ari, declared the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the supplementary governorship election, Aisha Dahiru, aka Binani, winner of the election, even when he didn’t have the power to do so.
Though the collation of results was scheduled to start at 11 am yesterday, with the result to be declared by the Returning Officer, Mele Lamido, the REC had gone ahead to declare the APC candidate winner at 9 am. Only the Returning Officer has the constitutional power to declare the winner.
His announcement elicited protests from members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, present at the state collation centre in Yola.
Before the collation exercise was suspended on Saturday night, results from 10 LGAs had been announced – and Binani was trailing Ahmadu Fintiri, the incumbent governor and PDP candidate.
The collation of results from the remaining 10 LGAs was expected to commence by 11 am on Sunday.
Mele Lamido, the returning officer for the Adamawa governorship election, was not present when Ari announced Binani as the winner of the election.
Lamido is empowered by law to declare the winner of the election, and not the REC, Yunusa Ari.
Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation, in its immediate response, described the declaration as illegal, saying it was against the guidelines of the Electoral Act.
“We’ve received reports of an illegal declaration of results by the @inecnigeria REC for #Adamawa in violation of S 64 & 65 Electoral Act 2022 & Part 3, INEC guidelines which vests the power to declare results solely on a Returning officer appointed by INEC.
“We call on @inecnigeria to nullify the illegal declaration, suspend the REC for Adamawa state and take urgent actions to protect the integrity of the process,” YIAGA Africa stated.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, immediately declared null and void, the purported declaration of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Aisha Dahiru Binani, who had already gone ahead to deliver her acceptance speech.
According to the commission, the REC has no such powers, as only the Returning Officer for the election is constitutionally mandated to make returns.
Besides, the commission said the election had not been concluded when the said the illegal declaration was made.
Consequently, INEC summoned the REC and all other officials involved in the incident to its headquarters in Abuja.
The National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education at the commission, Mr Festus Okoye, who confirmed the development yesterday, said: “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.
Adamawa REC’s action provocative, Buhari should intervene —Fintiri
Reacting to the development yesterday, the governor of Adamawa State and PDP candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, said the decision of the REC to declare a winner in the governorship election was “illegal and provocative”.
The governor called on President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the matter, saying he should not “shy away from this”.
He said: “We call on him to make a statement, we call on him to take a decision. I believe he will not be a party to this.”
Also reacting yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, insisted that its candidate and incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, should be declared the winner of the election, based on facts on the ground and the already collated results.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, who said this in a statement in Abuja, called on the people of Adamawa State, Nigerians and the international community to disregard the purported declaration of the defeated candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Aisha Binani as the winner of Adamawa State governorship election.
In his reaction, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, called the attention of Nigerians to what he described as the “game plan of upturning the democratic wishes of the people of Adamawa State” in the governorship election in the state.
Atiku, in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, said the initial decision of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State to declare the APC candidate, Sen. Aisha Binani, as the winner of the election, was a case study to the shambolic nature of the 2023 elections in general.
“Here in Adamawa, we are witnesses to a novel practice in election management where a Resident Electoral Commissioner announced the loser of an election as a winner.”
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