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UPDATED: Appeal Court Affirms Fintiri’s Election As Adamawa Governor 

This judgment affirmed the decision of the Tribunal on October 28 which dismissed the petition of APC's Binani.


Supreme Court
A file photo of Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri. Source: @GovernorAUF

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed Ahmadu Fintiri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as Governor of Adamawa State after dismissing the appeal of Aishatu Binani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for lacking merit.

In the judgment prepared by Justice Tunde Awotoye and read by Justice Ebiowei Tobi on Monday, the Appellate Court also awarded the cost of N500,000 in favour of Fintiri and the PDP against Binani.

The Appellate Court frowned at the premature announcement of the election outcome by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Hudu Ari, adding that Binani’s appeal was plagued by several demons.

The Court stressed in strong terms that the action of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in announcing Binani as the winner was illegal and an action outside of that prescribed by law as only the Returning Officer has such power.

This judgment affirmed the decision of the Tribunal on October 28 which dismissed the petition of Binani for failing to prove her allegations of over-voting by not tendering documents to prove her case faulting the outcome of the election.

Fintiri’s Victory

Exactly one month after the March 18 governorship elections, Fintiri was declared winner of what quite a few termed as a drama-filled supplementary election in Adamawa State.

Fintiri polled 9,337 votes besting Senator ‘Binani’ who scored 6,513 votes.

Controversy

This file photo taken on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, shows Hudu Yunusa-Ari in police custody. (Facebook/Nigeria Police Force)

 

In a controversial show, a day before Fintiri’s declaration, while collation was underway, Ari prematurely declared Binani as the winner, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Section 25 of the Electoral Act, 2022 empowers only the returning officer to announce the result and declare the winner of an election at the state collation centre in the case of the election of a governor of a state.

INEC Nulls Declaration

INEC officials at Adamawa collation centre on Tuesday, April 18, 2023

 

In a swift response to Binani’s declaration, INEC said the pronouncement is of no effect.

Consequently, it suspended the collation of results of the supplementary election in Adamawa and invited the REC, Returning Officer, and all officials involved to report to the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja.

The electoral body slammed the REC’s action, saying it usurped the power of the Returning Officer.

“The attention of the Commission has been drawn to a purported declaration of winner in the Adamawa Governorship election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) even when the process has clearly not been concluded,” INEC said in a statement.

“The action of the Resident Electoral Commission is a usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer. It is null, void, and of no effect. Consequently, the collation of results of the supplementary election is hereby suspended.”

The commission ordered Ari to stay away from its office in Adamawa until further notice, directing its administrative secretary in Adamawa to immediately take full charge of INEC in the state.

Police Arrest Ari

In this file photo, a police officer hold bunch of handcuffs at SARS headqurters in Abuja on October 3rd, 2020 PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

In the wake of the development, police authorities arrested Ari, confirming that the INEC REC was in their custody.

“Barrister Ari, who was arrested by the Police Election Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Team in Abuja on Tuesday 2nd May 2023, is currently in Police custody and is being grilled to ascertain the motives and motivations behind his alleged improper actions during the supplementary elections in Adamawa State,” Force Spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi said in a statement,

“In addition, other officials and individuals culpable in the saga are being interrogated by the team.”

Ari had maintained that he had no regrets about announcing ‘Binani’ as the winner of the 2023 governorship election in the state.

Binani Goes To Court

Aishatu Ahmed Binani appears on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, March 24, 2023.

 

A disgruntled Binani would later approach the Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain INEC from invalidating her declaration as the winner of the governorship election.

She had faulted the cancellation of her declaration on April 16 based on some crisis caused by the PDP and its candidate Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, stressing that INEC “has no powers to cancel or declare the declaration as been made as null and void”.

Before the court proceeding, Binani denied what she termed as “bizarre”, allegations that she gave out N2bn to some unnamed staff of INEC including embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Yunusa Ari, to procure a favourable declaration as governor-elect for Adamawa State.

“I never did, I would never do such,” Binani stressed.