In a thrilling turn of events, Prof Mohammed Mele, the Returning Officer for the Adamawa State governorship election, declared Governor Ahmadu Fintiri as the winner of the state governorship poll on Tuesday. Fintiri secured his second term in office, amassing 430,861 votes and defeating rival All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Aisha Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, who garnered 398,788 votes.
Earlier on, controversy ensued when Binani was declared governor-elect by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari, 48 hours before the official announcement by Prof Mele. Binani was trailing Fintiri by over 31,000 votes in the first round of the election held on March 18. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the exercise inconclusive as the margin of lead did not exceed the number of canceled votes in 69 polling units with 37,016 voters.
As the collation of results from the April 15 supplementary election was underway, Yunusa-Ari took over the duty of the returning officer and announced Binani as the winner, sparking an uproar. INEC swiftly declared his action null and void, summoning the REC and his colleagues in the Adamawa State office to Abuja. The commission, in a letter by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, further barred Yunusa-Ari from coming to the office and directed the Administrative Secretary to take charge of the INEC office in the state.
At the resumed collation of results on Tuesday, Prof Mele pronounced Fintiri as the election winner, leading to wild jubilation among the anxious residents of the state. The event was witnessed by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
In his announcement, Prof Mele stated, “Ahmadu Fintiri, having satisfied the requirement of the law, is hereby returned duly re-elected.” The total number of registered voters was 2,196,566, while the accredited voters were 876,387. The valid votes were 853,819, rejected votes totaled 15,287, and the total votes cast were 869,106.
Following the unethical conduct of Yunusa-Ari, INEC met with its management, including national commissioners and INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja on Tuesday. The electoral umpire requested the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to call the attention of “the appointing authority” to the unwholesome behavior of the REC for further action. The appointing authority, according to the constitution, refers to the President, who is empowered to appoint INEC commissioners.
In accordance with the decisions reached at the meeting, the Nigeria Police Force has pledged to investigate the incident at the Adamawa collation center in collaboration with the electoral commission. The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, noted that the police had yet to receive the letter from INEC but will collaborate with the electoral umpire to investigate the matter. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has also ordered the immediate redeployment of the Commissioner of Police on election duty in Adamawa State, Mohammed Barde, and replaced him with the CP in charge of Gombe State, Etim Equa, who has been directed to proceed to Adamawa immediately.