The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has waded into the drama playing out in Adamawa State supplementary governorship election, saying the action of the State's Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ari Hudu, declaring the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election when the process had not been concluded, was an usurpation of powers of the Returning Officer.
The Commission also said Hudu's action was null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
In a post via its verified Twitter handle on Sunday, INEC, in a statement signed by Barr. Festus Okoye, the
National Commissioner, Information & Voter Education, also suspended futher collation of results as all critical officials involved are to report at the Commission's headquarters in Abuja immediately.
"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.
"2. The action of the REC 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.
"3. The REC, Returning Officer and all involved are hereby invited to the Commission's Headquarters in Abuja immediately. Detailed statement to follow shortly," Okoye stated.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa, Hudu Ari, Sunday morning, controversially declared Binani the winner of the election.
Binani of the APC and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP are the two main contestants in the election with Mr Fintiri leading before Saturday’s rerun election in 69 polling units.
Mr Ari made the declaration Sunday morning amidst chaos at the collation centre in Yola, the state capital, Daily Trust reports.
A video of Mr Ari announcing Binani the winner has since gone viral.
However, according to the electoral law, the announcement should have been made by the returning officer of the election, who is a different person, usually an academic appointed by INEC for that purpose.
“We’ve received reports of an illegal declaration of results by the @inecnigeria REC for #Adamawa in violation of S 64 & 65 Electoral Act 2022 & Part 3, INEC guidelines which vests the power to declare results solely on a Returning officer appointed by INEC,” prominent election observation group, Yiaga Africa, wrote on Twitter.
“We call on @inecnigeria to nullify the illegal declaration, suspend the REC for Adamawa state and take urgent actions to protect the integrity of the process.”
Mr Ari had earlier adjourned the collation to 11 a.m. Sunday but announced the winner an hour before the scheduled time.
As of 1 a.m., before the adjournment, only results of relevant polling units in 10 out of 20 local governments had been announced with the PDP candidate, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, still in the lead, Daily Trust reported. Binani, the candidate of Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) seeks to become the first woman to be elected state governor in Nigeria.