Suspended Resident Election Commissioner Hudu Yunusa Ari, now in hiding, has insisted without evidence that Aisha Binani won the 2023 gubernatorial election in Adamawa, according to a letter he sent to the country’s top security agencies.
In the extensive letter received at the Force Headquarters on April 20, with a copy also to the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), National Security Adviser (NSA) and president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ), Mr. Ari claimed that the two national commissioners, Baba Bila and Abdullahi Zuru, who had been tasked with helping him with the March 15 by-elections, were secretly working with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). ) to manipulate the results.
Mr. Yunusa Ari has been on the run since March 16, minutes after he was suddenly declared the winner of Ms. Ahmed while the collation in the supplementary exercise was still in progress. The INEC chief did not present any evidence to support his statement, which he apparently made on the fly. He was seen later that day leaving the state on a chartered flight and has not been seen since.
Subsequently, the INEC headquarters in Abuja annulled Mr. Yunusa Ari’s action, summoned him to Abuja and asked the police and other security agencies to arrest him. The agency later concluded the election and declared the PDP’s Ahmadu Fintiri the winner. President Muhammadu Buhari also ordered the immediate arrest of Mr. Yunusa Ari for the illegal statement, sparking anxiety across the country.
It was not immediately clear whether or not security agencies are aware of Mr. Yunusa Ari’s location, especially after he managed to write letters to federal authorities.
In a statement to The Gazette, INEC spokesman Festus Okoye said Mr. Yunusa Ari should either turn himself in to the commission or to the police, who already have a file outlining crimes he committed in the line of duty.
“You must report and respond to election violations and make your allegations, and you must be part of the police investigation,” Okoye told The Gazette on Tuesday night.
“The commission is not interested in your ‘fictitious letters from the underground,’” Mr. Okoye added. “If you have a narrative, you should give it to the police. Alternatively, you can inform the commission and the commission will take you to the police.”
SSS spokesman Peter Afunanya directed The Gazette to an April 16 press release in which the secret police had said they were investigating an attack “in which someone suspected of being their staff was allegedly mistreated by some political wrongdoers in Adamawa State.”
The statement seemed to corroborate Mr. Yunusa Ari’s claim that an SSS agent was attacked by policemen attached to Government House and “thugs loyal to the PDP”.
Mr. Afunanya, however, did not respond when asked if there have been any new developments since his last statement released more than a week ago, particularly whether the secret police have been able to trace Mr. Yunusa Ari’s hideout.
Police said on Tuesday that they received further instructions from the INEC headquarters about Mr. Yunusa Ari’s crimes and immediately intensified the persecution. An NSA spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
Mr. Yunusa Ari, a lawyer, said he belatedly discovered that INEC officials held secret meetings with Mr. Fintiri at Yola Government House at around 8:31 pm on Friday, the night before the election, where they perfected the plans to change the snack. officials and alter the results of the elections.
On election day, the state police commissioner handed him the findings of a plot that exposed how some politicians had hired Boko Haram terrorists to steal ballot boxes and disrupt the polls, says Ari’s account of the matter.
In an update on the same day, police said security threats remained high as insurgents had planned to attack several local governments to disrupt the meal. Ari was then advised to move the collection of local government areas to the state INEC headquarters, he said in the four-page letter.
The election commissioner said he quickly complied, ordering all ad-hoc staff to conduct a collation at the commission’s head office in Dougirei, Yola.
He said he did not realize that the two assistant national commissioners had their own plans, as they “quietly and secretly gave conflicting counter-directives” to election officials, adding that the counter-directives also said that the collection should be done on the premises. . government areas with new local government check officers that he “wasn’t aware of.”
“This is without my knowledge or authorization as Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by the laws established by the INEC and the Electoral Law,” said Mr. Yunusa Ari, absolving himself of complicity and any wrongdoing.
He would later find out that Messrs. Bila and Zuru flouted his order and quietly collated the results in local governments using “illegal, unapproved, self-proclaimed collation officers.”
Mr. Ari explained that while preparing for the state snack, he was surprised to learn that his name had not only been excluded but “replaced with that of the administrative secretary to take over the snack.”
He questioned the attending national commissioners, but got no explanation. Instead, they “declared that they couldn’t find me anywhere.”
He said he was placed under house arrest by security officers from Yola Government House, and the police commissioner deployed mobile officers to rescue him.
“It took the intervention of the police commissioner who sent mobile police officers to my house, and when they heard a call to the CP, the Government House policemen fled in a white Toyota Hilux van, recounted Mr. Yunusa Ari.
At around 1:00 am on April 16, Mr. Yunusa Ari said that he went to the matching center where Mr. Bila and Mr. Zuru had been sleeping to remind them that he was still the state REC and that all interested parties in re-elections they should return to the collection center at 11:00 am later that day.
The electoral commissioner said that when reviewing the results uploaded on the INEC IREV portal, he discovered discrepancies since “the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me.”
Yunusa Ari said he has called a meeting of security chiefs, including the police commissioner, SSS, Civil Defense commander and others, to conclude the by-election and prevent a collapse of law and order.
After collating the results, he found that Ms. Binani was the candidate with the highest number of valid votes, and subsequently declared her the winner of the Adamawa gubernatorial election.
“Based on this I compiled all the results of the voting units and declared the winner of the election based on the highest number of valid votes obtained by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani,” said the Mr. Ari. wrote in the letter.
It added: “The breakdown of the valid votes cast by the top two candidates in the supplemental election using the results of voting units collated on all relevant Forms EC8B, C, D, and E, respectively, by duly appointed collation officers and legally recognized. and my humble self as Adamawa State Polling Chief and Resident Election Commissioner (REC).”
Yunusa Ari said his statement led thugs loyal to the PDP to take down the other two INEC commissioners for not tampering with the election results to favor the incumbent governor despite taking bribes from his team.
“Then immediately after the statement, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, as well as the Teller, Prof. Muhammed Mele for not handing over Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the elections after to collect money from him. Aria said.
Meanwhile, he claimed that an SSS agent who knew about the bribes handed out to national commissioners was also overpowered, disarmed and taken to Government House, where he was assaulted by both police and “thugs loyal to the PDP.”
In light of all the events leading up to Fintiri’s supposed victory, Ari stressed that the result collated by the two national commissioners “is shrouded in doubts that are unacceptable and therefore illegal.”
Mr. Ari defended his actions to be within his rights contained in the Electoral Law of 2022.
“I want to say categorically that my actions are within the responsibility that corresponds to me and within the scope of the law, in particular the Electoral Law 2022 and its reforms.”
In the letter, Mr. Yunusa Ari reaffirmed his position as polling director, but did not say that he had the power to declare a winner, which is reserved for the counting officer.
A Fintiri spokesman strongly denied accusations that the governor bribed electoral managers. INEC did not comment on the bribery allegations brought by Mr. Yunusa Ari against Messrs. Bila and Zuru.
At least seven governor’s aides have been arrested for their part in the attack on the SSS agent, who was said to be a deputy chief, The Gazette has learned. It was not immediately clear if some or all had been released as of Wednesday morning.