INEC Files Six Count Charge Against Suspended Adamawa REC, Yunusa-Ari

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Thursday, filed a six-count charge at the High Court in Yola, against its suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa-Ari.

The electoral body in a statement, said it took the action after reviewing the case file from the police which established a prima facie case against Yunusa-Ari.

Recall that the Police had arrested Yunusa-Ari over his actions during Adamawa State governorship election.

He was granted administrative bail, then asked to report to the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force daily.

INEC’s National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, had said the commission will “soon” take action on the case.

“I am aware that the police have concluded investigations and I am aware that in the next few weeks, Nigerians will be informed of what will happen.

“Under the law, it is the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission to prosecute him (Ari) if a prima facie case has made out against him,” Okoye had disclosed.

Yunusa-Ari’s predicament started after he announced Aisha ‘Binani’ Dahiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the supplementary poll (April 15) while the collation of results was still ongoing.

The Commission nullified Yunusa-Ari’s decision and suspended him, while former President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered a full investigation on the electoral commissioner and the security personnel that were around him when he made the declaration.

INEC then concluded the election and announced the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party, as the authentic winner of the dramatic poll.

READ ALSO: We Didn’t Compromise Adamawa Election, Suspended REC’s Whereabout Unknown – INEC

Yunusa-Ari, in his defence, said he announced results of 69 polling units in the April 15 supplementary election due to security pressure.

He stated that his reasons for the April 16 declaration in a letter addressed to the then Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, INEC chairman and the Director-General of the Department of State Services.

According to Ari, he acted within the ambit of the law to avert looming danger of the delay in announcing the results, especially because he realised that the results brought by the presiding officers from the 69 polling units, which he did not sign, differed from those uploaded on the INEC Result Viewing  portal.

He further listed the attempts to replace him as the collation officer with the administrative secretary, threats by candidates to cause mayhem, commissioners appointing ‘illegal collation officers’, and his house surrounded by policemen from the Government House as some of the risks he faced during the election.

“It was based on these 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 APC.

“I had 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 recognised collation officers and my humble self as the Adamawa State Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

“Prior to the declaration, there was an intelligence report made available to me that the two national commissioners were at the Government House, Yola at 8:31pm on April 15, 2023 and held a meeting with Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri,” he said.

READ ALSO: INEC Summons Adamawa REC Over Gov Election Declaration

Meanwhile, Okoye said the court had fixed 12 July for the commencement of the trial.

“Having reviewed the case file from the Police, which established a prima facie case against Barr. Hudu Yunusa Ari, the commission has filed a six-count charge against him at the Adamawa State High Court sitting in Yola. Consequently, the court has fixed Wednesday 12th July 2023 for commencement of trial,” Okoye stated, without details of the charges.

He said the prosecution would be handled by its legal officers and other pro-bono lawyers from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in line with section 145(2) of the electoral act 2022.

“As provided by Section 145(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, an offence committed under the Act shall be triable in a Magistrate Court or a High Court of a State in which the offence is committed, or the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Furthermore, Section 145(2) of the Act provides that a prosecution under the Act shall be undertaken by legal officers of the Commission or any legal practitioner appointed by it,” he stated.