‘Adamawa REC Seeking Protection From Another Court To Run Away’ – INEC Prosecutor Fumes

 

Hudu Yunusa-Ari
Hudu Yunusa-Ari

The arraignment of the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari, Wednesday, failed as he did not appear at an Adamawa High Court in Yola.

Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) filed charges against the Adamawa REC for controversially declaring the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress) in Adamawa State, Aisha Dahiru (Binani), winner of the last governorship election in the State.

INEC however cancelled the declaration and announced incumbent Adamawa State Governor and Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, the winner of the poll.

The electoral commission, which declared the REC’s action as illegal and criminal, last week announced that it was set to prosecute the REC and that his arraignment had been fixed for Wednesday.

Moreso, ahead of the appearance, the APC governorship candidate, Binani, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday and obtained an interim order stopping the prosecution of the REC.

Information Nigeria reports that the prosecuting counsel for INEC, Rotimi Jacobs, appeared on Wednesday before Justice Benjamin Lawan of the Adamawa State High Court in Yola for Yunusa-Ari’s arraignment but realised the REC was absent.

On the realisation, Jacobs expressed disappointment, contending that the Abuja suit stopping Yunusa-Ari’s trial was an abuse of court processes.

READ ALSO: Court Restrains INEC, AGF From Prosecuting Suspended Adamawa REC, Yunusa-Ari

“My Lord, we read in the news that the defendant had obtained an order restraining both the prosecution and the high court from proceeding with his trial. I want to note that the alleged offences as preferred against him are serious offences. But it appears the defendant is running away considering his decision to seek protection from another court of concurrent jurisdiction,” Jacobs said.

In response, Justice Lawan said he would rather defer to the Abuja court and stay action on the charges until the Abuja lawsuit was determined.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told The Punch that the commission had been served with the Abuja court order and had directed its legal team to study it with a view to challenging it in court.

“The commission has been served with an order restraining it from proceeding with the arraignment and trial of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and inviting it to show cause why the order should not be sustained.

“The commission has consulted its legal department and legal team and charged them with the task of studying the said ex parte order and are making the necessary representation before the Federal High Court.

“The legal team will weigh all the constitutional and legal options available to the commission and determine whether the Federal High Court is vested with the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the matter and whether it can halt the prosecution of the Resident Electoral Commissioner.

“In other words, the legal team may show cause why the ex parte order should be discharged to enable the prosecution to proceed,” Okoye said.

He further assured that INEC would “diligently and professionally and in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association file and prosecute all electoral offenders whose case files have been handed over to it for prosecution.”

He also reiterated INEC’s campaign for the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission “that will be charged with the task of investigation, arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders.”

“Nigeria must find ways and means of breaking the cycle of electoral impunity,” he added.