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Electoral Commission of Nigeria, INEC, has said it does not know where Hudu Ari, its Resident Electoral Commission (REC) is in Adamawa State. Mr. Ari was the one who outlawed All Progressive Congress (APC) Aishatu Dahiru, the winner of last Sunday’s Adamawa State governorship election.
INEC and President Buhari have authorized the suspension of Mr. Ari and his possible investigation and prosecution by the police.
The commission said that Mr. Ari did not respond to the phone calls and to report to the headquarters on Monday in violation of the directive.
INEC spokesman Festus Okoye disclosed this in an interview with Channels Television on Friday.
“Until this moment, he has not reported and we do not know where he is,” Mr. Okoye said.
The official return for the Adamawa state governorship election was delayed two hours before the commencement of the results collection, Mr. Ari entered the collection center to declare Mrs. Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, the winner of the election.
At that time, the collection of results had not yet been completed to determine the winner. Furthermore, Mr. Ari is not an official authorized by law to declare the results, as he is not a candidate for the election.
This immediately sparked controversy as the commission headquarters in Abuja quickly released a statement describing Mr. Ari’s actions as a usurpation of the translators’ power. He said the declaration made by Mr. Ari was null, void and of no effect.
INEC ordered the collection of the results to be suspended and summoned the REC and the translator officer to the commission headquarters.
The commission would later remove Mr. Ari from his offices and ask the state’s Administrative Secretary to take over the affairs of the commission. He also wrote to the Inspector General of Police to investigate and prosecute Mr. Ari for his actions.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also agreed to suspend Mr. Ari.
“Ari’s whereabouts unknown”
However, as of Sunday’s declaration, Mr. Ari’s whereabouts remain unknown to INEC. He has not responded to the commission’s phone calls and failed to comply with the directive to report to the commission’s headquarters, Mr. Okoye said on the television programme.
“We don’t know where he is, because after this specific event, the committee wrote to him and also called him on the phone. He never returned a call, he never answered a call,” she said. “We asked him to report on the committee that we did not see on Sunday, we asked him to report on what we did not see on Monday. So, until this moment, he has not informed and we do not know where he is”.
Mr. Okoye said the commission has written to the police to investigate and prosecute Mr. Ari, it is the responsibility of the police to testify if Mr. Ari is willing.
“If they feel that his presence during the investigation is absolutely necessary and if they cannot find him anywhere, it is their prerogative and discretion to declare their desire,” he said.
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“We wrote to the inspector general of police and the secretary to the government of the federation. We have received a response from the Inspector General of Police and they have already started an investigation.
“Our understanding is that once the Inspector General of Police completes the investigation into REC and everyone else involved and a prima facie case is established against REC, the file will be handed over to the commission and the commission will initiate the prosecution of REC.”
Meanwhile, Professor Muhammad Mele then continued with the collation of the results and declared the current governor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ahmadu Fintiri as the winner of the election.
Mr. Fintiri said he polled a total of 430,861 votes to defeat his APC challenger and closest candidate, Binani, who polled 398,788 votes.
Certificates of return have also been presented to Mr. Finitiri and his elected deputy governor.
However, following his illegal declaration, he moved to a Federal Court in the Federal Capital Territory, Binani, seeking an order to quash INEC Mr. Ari’s declaration.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, however, asked Binani’s lawyer to correct him on the law empowering the court to hear the petition. He then adjourned the case till April 26.
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