Suspended Adamawa REC writes police, SSS, and NSA from his hiding, explaining how Aisha Binani ‘won’ the governorship election

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Suspended According to a letter submitted to the nation’s top security agencies by Resident Electoral Commissioner Hudu Yunusa Ari, who is in hiding, Aisha Binani won the 2023 governorship election in Adamawa despite the lack of evidence.

Mr Ari, in a lengthy missive received at Force Headquarters on April 20, which was copied to the director-general of the State Security Service (SSS), the National Security Adviser (NSA), and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), claimed that the two national commissioners, Baba Bila and Abdullahi Zuru, who had been tasked to assist him with the supplementary election on April 15, were secretly working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the results.

Mr Yunusa Ari has been on the run since April 16, only minutes after declaring Mrs Ahmed the winner of the supplementary election while collation was still in progress. The INEC chairman provided no proof to back up his declaration, which appeared to be made on the spur of the moment. He was last seen leaving the state in a chartered jet later that day and has not been seen since.

INEC headquarters in Abuja later nullified Mr Yunusa Ari’s action, summoned him to Abuja, and requested that the police and other security services arrest him. The agency later certified Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP the winner of the election. President Muhammadu Buhari also ordered Mr Yunusa Ari’s immediate arrest for the illegal declaration.

It was unclear whether security agents were aware of Mr Yunusa Ari’s whereabouts, especially after he managed to submit letters to federal officials.

INEC spokesman Festus Okoye told The Gazette that Mr Yunusa Ari should turn himself in to the commission or the police, who already have a file listing the offenses he committed in the line of duty.

“He should report and answer to the electoral infractions and make his allegations, and it should form part of the police investigation,” Mr Okoye said Tuesday night to The Gazette.

“The commission isn’t interested in his ‘fictional letters from hiding,'” Mr Okoye continued. “If he has a story, he should tell it to the cops.” He can also report to the commission, and the commission will transport him to the police.”

SSS spokesperson Peter Afunanya pointed The Gazette to an April 16 press release in which the secret police said it was probing an attack “in which someone suspected to be its staff was allegedly manhandled by some political miscreants in Adamawa State.”

Mr Yunusa Ari’s claim that an SSS operative was attacked by police personnel assigned to the Government House and “thugs loyal to the PDP” appeared to be supported by the statement.

Mr Afunanya, on the other hand, did not react when asked if there had been any new developments since his last statement, which was released over a week ago, particularly if the secret police had been able to track down Mr Yunusa Ari’s hideout.

The police said on Tuesday that they acquired additional information regarding Mr Yunusa Ari’s crimes from INEC headquarters and promptly increased their manhunt. On Tuesday night, an NSA spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Yunusa Ari, a legal practitioner, revealed that INEC officials attended covert meetings with Mr Fintiri at the Government House Yola around 8:31 p.m. on Friday, the night before the election, to complete plans to change the collation officers and modify the election results.

According to Mr Ari’s version, on election day, the state’s commissioner of police presented him with the findings of a conspiracy that revealed how some politicians had paid Boko Haram militants to take ballot boxes and disrupt the votes.

The police warned in an update the same day that security threats remained high since rebels planned to assault numerous local governments to disrupt collation. According to the four-page letter, Mr Ari was then urged to move the collation from local government areas to the state’s INEC headquarters.

According to the electoral commissioner, he swiftly complied and requested that all ad hoc workers undertake collation at the commission’s offices in Dougirei, Yola.

He claimed he had no idea the two assisting national commissioners had their own plans because they “quietly and secretly gave out conflicting counter directives” to the electoral officers, adding that the counter-directives also stated that collation should be done in local government areas with new local government collation officers he was “not aware of.”

“This was done without my knowledge or authorization as the Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by laws establishing INEC and the Electoral Act,” Mr Yunusa Ari added, absolving himself of any culpability.

He would later discover that Messrs Bila and Zuru had defied his instructions by discreetly collating results at local governments with “self-appointed, unapproved, and illegal collation officers.”

Mr Ari added that while preparing for state collation, he was astounded to hear that his name had not only been omitted, but had also been “replaced with that of the administrative secretary to take charge of collation.”

He questioned the helping national commissioners but received no response. They instead “declared that I was nowhere to be found.”

He said that security agents from Government House Yola placed him under house arrest, and that the police commissioner dispatched mobile policemen to rescue him.

“It took the intervention of the commissioner of police, who sent mobile policemen to my house, and when they heard a call to the CP, the policemen from Government House fled in a white Toyota Hilux van,” Mr Yunusa Ari said.

Mr Yunusa Ari said he went to the collation centre where Messrs Bila and Zuru had been sleeping at 1:00 a.m. on April 16 to remind them that he was still the state’s REC and that all stakeholders for the re-run poll should return to the collation site by 11:00 a.m. later that day.

The electoral commissioner 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.”

Mr Yunusa Ari said he called a conference of security authorities, including the police commissioner, SSS, Civil Defence commandant, and others, to end the supplemental polls and avoid a collapse in law and order.

After collating the results, he determined that Ms Binani had received the most valid votes and declared her the victor of the Adamawa governorship elections.

“It was on this basis that I compiled all 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,” Mr Ari stated in the letter.

He went on to say, “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 Adamawa state Chief Collation Officer and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).”

Mr Yunusa Aris said that his pronouncement prompted PDP thugs to attack the two other INEC commissioners for failing to change the election results in favor of the incumbent governor after accepting payments from his team.

“So, immediately following the declaration, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, as well as the Returning Officer, Prof. Muhammed Mele, for failing to deliver Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the election after collecting money from him,” Mr Ari explained.

Meanwhile, he said that one SSS operative who was aware of the bribes paid to national commissioners was also overpowered, disarmed, and escorted to Government House, where he was assaulted by both police and “thugs loyal to the PDP.”

Given the events preceding up to Mr Fintiri’s alleged triumph, Mr Ari stated that the result compiled by the two national commissioners “is shrouded in doubt, which is unacceptable and therefore illegal.”

Mr Ari said that his activities were within his powers under the Electoral Act 2022.

“I want to state unequivocally that my actions are within the scope of my responsibilities and the law, particularly the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.”

Mr Yunusa Ari confirmed his status as chief collation officer in the letter, but he did not claim the authority to proclaim a winner, which is reserved for the returning officer.

Mr Fintiri’s spokeswoman categorically denied the governor bribed election officials. INEC made no reaction on Mr Yunusa Ari’s bribery charges against Messrs Bila and Zuru.

According to The Gazette, at least seven governor’s aides were arrested for their role in the attack on the SSS agent, who was claimed to be an associate director. As of Wednesday morning, it remained unclear whether any or all of them had been released.

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