The Partners for Electoral Reform, a Civil Society Organisations have asked the Nigeria Police Force to declare the suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa State supplementary election, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, wanted.
The Chairman of the CSO, Ezenwa Nwagwu, made the call in a statement in Abuja on Friday following reports that the suspended REC had written to the police from his hide out.
Nwagwu said that Yunusa-Ari should be immediately declared wanted if he was not ready to voluntarily submit himself for investigation as directed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), according to The News Agency of Nigeria.
The statement read, “The suspended and now fugitive REC of Adamawa State has written to the Police from his hide out. He has been summoned to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja since April 17.
“This is 10 days and counting, he failed to show up. Meanwhile, the Police is said to have commenced investigation into the travesty of his announcement of illegal result for the Adamawa Governorship election.
“Now he has written a four-page letter to IGP dated April 20 submitting an apparently unsolicited report to the police by illegally using the Commission’s letterhead after he was directed to stay away from office by INEC and his immediate suspension by the President.
“He is doing himself a disservice by going into hiding. Implied by his action is an admission of guilt which is apparent from his sudden disappearance.”
He advised Yunusa-Ari to be courageous to answer the invitation of the inspector-general of Police and make an official statement rather than resort to letter writing.
Nwagwu said the four-page letter which the suspended REC or his accomplices leaked to the media shows the REC’s confused state of mind.
“The title of it seems to be a report of the supplementary governorship election held on April 15.
“From its opening paragraph, the letter is intended for INEC but ironically addressed to the IGP.”
Nwagwu said that the REC in the letter went straight into attack on both the motive and credibility of the two national commissioners deployed to oversee the conduct of the supplementary and the conclusion of state governors election.
“The two Commissioners should be and ought to be capable of defending themselves from the allegations leveled against them.
“Any comment here will be prejudicial to the ongoing police investigation and possible prosecution of the REC.”
Nwagwu said that as a keen election observer, the letter showed the REC profound lack of understanding of basic provisions of the electoral legal framework and his responsibilities as a REC.
“This is a sad commentary on the man who is said to be a lawyer, a Member of the National Institute and a retired State Permanent Secretary.”
Nwangwu said that first, the commission could send national commissioners to supervise elections anywhere it considers it necessary and RECs work under their supervision and guidance
He said that Section 7 of the Electoral Act empowers the Commission to do so, citing instances such as Kebbi, Zamfara, Imo, Rivers, Ekiti and Ogun States where national commissioners were deployed to without any incidence.
He said that the problem in Adamawa was the REC as he amply demonstrated by his conduct.
“Secondly, only the Commission can appoint collation and returning officers. It is beyond the powers of RECs.
“In the case of Adamawa, the REC arrogated to himself powers that he did not have as “Chief Collation Officer” for the State and the returning officer for the Governorship election.
“There is no such designation under the law and curiously for a lawyer, he did not refer to any section of the Electoral Act to justify what is clearly his usurpation of the power of the Returning Officer.
“Indeed, it is noteworthy that the same Returning Officer handled the collation of results of the presidential election in Adamawa State held on Feb. 25 and the main Governorship election held on March 18.
“The REC only discovered his powers during the supplementary election,” Nwagwu added.
He said that thirdly, the REC referred to report from the security agencies (Commissioner of Police and the DSS) which advised that election material should not be moved to LGAs on Friday in spite of their availability and logistics arrangement for doing so.
He stated further, “As a result, deployment to LGAs was only carried out on the day of the election and this may explain why some of the polling units, particularly in Numan, opened late as reported by some observers.
“He also said that the security report advised a change of collation centre where all results will be collated. This is strange.”
Nwagwu said that RECs lack powers to change collation centres without the commission’s approval after consultation with stakeholders.
He said that national commissioners present were right to insist on the Commission’s collation centre where the results of presidential and governorship elections were collated in the full glare of the party agents, observers and the media.
Nwagwu said that Yunusa-Ari appeared to be working to the answer by relying on security report from the same agencies that aided and abetted his illegality.
“Fourthly, the REC referred to “authentic” results. From where did these results originate? If they were really authentic polling unit results, they would have been uploaded to the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal.
“As for the results from various levels of collation, we all saw the REC making his illegal declaration without the any forms in the manner the Commission collates results and declare winners.
“He may right now be in hiding filling bogus forms but once they surface in public, the inconsistency will show.
“In any case, the authentic results from all the 69 polling units across the 20 LGAs where the supplementary elections took place on April 15 is now public knowledge.
“There is a sever penalty under the Electoral Act 2022 for publishing fake election results which does not provide the option of fine,” Nwagwu said.
He concluded that the whole statement is charade advising the REC to come out of his hiding to make a statement to the police.
“He cannot be hiding forever and cannot continue to move about in a private jet as he was allegedly flown from Adamawa to his hiding place.
“If Yunusa-Ari is not ready to voluntarily submit himself to police investigation as directed by the President, the police should declare him wanted immediately.”