Hudu Yunusa-Ari, the fleeing Residential Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State suspended for violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 has written to the Inspector General of Police from his hideout.
The letter which was received by the Force Headquarters on April 20, was copied to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Director General of the State Security Service (also known as the Department of State Services) and the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The letter was obtained by an online newspaper, Peoples Gazette.
SaharaReporters had exclusively reported that Yunusa-Ari was flown out of Yola, the state capital, in a private jet belonging to the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, on Sunday, April 16.
SaharaReporters investigation revealed that Yunusa-Ari was flown out of the city immediately after he illegally and wrongfully announced Aishatu Dahiru Binani, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the governorship election in the state.
His whereabouts have been unknown since then.
This followed a supplementary governorship election held in the state on Saturday, April 15.
Yunusa-Ari on Sunday declared Binani as the winner of the poll even though the collation of results of the supplementary election had yet to be completed.
He bizarrely allocated 221,303 votes to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, which represented a 50 per cent shortfall from his initial 400,000 votes.
On March 20, 2023, SaharaReporters reported that the Adamawa State governorship election had been declared inconclusive, with Governor Fintiri leading with 421,524.
Declaring the polls inclusive, the returning officer, Prof Mohammed Mele, said the election was inconclusive because the number of cancelled votes exceeded the margin of victory.
When collation resumed after the supplementary election on Saturday, April 15, the returning officer, Mele, after collating results from about 10 local government areas, adjourned collation to 11:00 am on Sunday, April 16.
However, as early as 9:00 am, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Yunusa-Ari, in company with the police commissioner in charge of election duties, Mohammed Barde, and some other heads of security agencies, announced Binani as the winner.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, however, swiftly nullified the announcement and invited the REC to its headquarters in Abuja.
Meanwhile, last Friday, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner And Chairman, Information And Voter Education Committee, recently said the commission did not know the whereabouts of Yunusa-Ari.
Okoye said the REC failed to show up at the commission’s headquarters as directed and had not been answering his phone calls.
“We don’t know where he is because, after this particular incident, the commission wrote him and also called him on the phone. He never returned any of the calls, he never answered any of the calls,” he said.
“We asked him to report to the commission on Sunday we didn’t see him, we asked him to report on Monday we didn’t see him. So up till this moment, he has not reported and we don’t know his whereabouts.”
However, Yunusa-Ari, in his letter accused two National Commissioners, Dr. Baba Bila and Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, sent from the INEC head office to assist in the conduct of the supplementary election, of trying to rig the election for Governor Fintiri.
He said “the actions of the two National Commissioners left much to be desired”.
“The Commissioners held a meeting with my management staff in my absence and while I did not know the outcome of the meeting, there was a sudden move to tamper with the list of Collation Officers (COs) earlier released for the re-run election,” he said.
He alleged that the “National Commissioners quietly and secretly gave out conflicting counter directives to the EOs (Electoral Officers) that collation was to be done in the Local Government Areas with an instruction that new LGA collation officers which I am not aware of will be sent to them”.
“This is without my knowledge or authorization as the Resident Electoral Commissioner as recognized by laws establishing INEC and Electoral Act,” he added.
Yunusa-Ari said his “name was replaced with that of the Administrative Secretary to take charge of the collation”.
He continued, “I then asked the National Commissioners to explain why they would exclude me from the process of collating results but there was no explanation. After some time, the National Commissioners declared that I was nowhere to be found Immediately after the announcement, someone called me and informed about the development.
“So around 1:00 am on Sunday 16 April, 2023, I came back to the collation center and as I saw some people sleeping including the two National Commissioners, I addressed them that I was still the Resident Electoral Commissioner and that all stakeholders for the re-run election should return to the collation center by 11:00 am on Sunday, 16 April, 2023.
“It is important to note that while the National Commissioners defied the security concerns released by the Commissioner of Police, they purportedly did result collation at various locations by their self-appointed, unapproved and illegal collation officers.
“Meanwhile, I received reports that the collations at the various centers were left much to be desired. So due to the pressure and the numerous calls I received from party agents and candidates of political parties threatening to cause mayhem for not having confidence in the collation of results at the various collation centers as directed by the National Commissioners, I looked inward and decided to call for all the results from the sixty-nine (69) polling units.
“To avert the impending danger of the delay in announcing the results of the supplementary elections, I received the authentic results submitted by the Presiding Officers (POs) from all the sixty-nine polling units and compared them with the results that were uploaded on the IREV INEC portal and realized that the results on the portal were different because the results on the INEC portal were not signed by me.
“On 15/04/2023 at about 10:00pm, armed Policemen from Government House came to my house and placed me under House Arrest to prevent me from conducting my legitimate duties. It took the intervention of the Commissioner of Police who sent Mobile Policemen to my house and when they heard a call was made to the CP, the policemen from Government House fled in a White Toyota Hilux van.”
“It was based on this, 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 All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani,” he said.
He added that before he declared the results, “there was an intelligence report made available to me that the two National Commissioners were at the Government House, Yola, at 8:31 pm on 15/04/2023 Adamawa State and held a meeting with the State Governor, Mr. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
“So, immediately after the declaration, some PDP supporters attacked one of the National Commissioners, Prof. Abdullahi Zara 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.
“It was also alleged that the people beaten in the purported video wanted to subvert the re-run election in Adamawa State and undermine the will of the Adamawa people as expressed through the ballot.”
“A staff of Department of State Services (DSS) on intelligence gathering on the money allegedly given to the National Commissioner was also disarmed, abducted, taken to Government House Yola and assaulted by Police from Government House Yola and thugs loyal to the PDP,” he added.