The 2023 general elections had many surprises, and for Adamawa state, more election drama is set to unfold in the coming weeks.
Adamawa’s governorship elections caught the interest of many Nigerians because of its potential to produce Nigeria’s first female elected governor if Aishatu “Binani” Dahiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerge victorious. However, her opponent is the state’s incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
On the D-day of the March 18 governorship elections, Fintiri was in the lead with 421,524 votes, and Binani trailed behind with 390,275 votes. But, the election was declared inconclusive for two reasons:
- The vote margin (i.e. 31,249 votes) between Fintiri and Binani exceeded the cancelled votes.
- Due to electoral violence and overvoting, elections were cancelled in 69 polling units which affected about 37,016 potential voters.
On March 27, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that supplementary polls would be held on April 15, 2023.
However, it’s unfortunate that the supplementary elections conducted in Adamawa can be described as a show of shame. We will break down some key things that happened during the elections.
Journalists weren’t allowed to observe the collation process
It’s customary for journalists to cover the collation process in every election, but armed security officers prevented journalists from entering the collation centre during the supplementary elections in Adamawa state. When asked why, the security officials said it was “an order from above”.
A winner was declared before the conclusion of the collation process
The results of the elections started trickling in, and it showed Fintiri in the lead in 10 out of 20 local governments. But, the Returning Officer suspended the collation process at 1 a.m. and said the results announcement would resume by 11 a.m. the next day, April 16.
However, the state’s INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Ari, shocked Nigeria when by 9 a.m., he announced Aishatu Binani as the winner of the governorship elections.
According to Sections 64 and 65 of the Electoral Act, the winner of an election can only be announced by a Returning Officer appointed by INEC, but it looks like Hudu decided to take matters into his own hands.
Aishatu Binani gave an acceptance speech
While many Nigerians were still trying to figure out the magic happening in Adamawa, Binani hurriedly gave an acceptance speech thanking the people for electing her. She also said her win would encourage other women to participate in politics.
INEC annuls the declaration
As we already said, only a Returning Officer has the right to declare the winner of an election. INEC condemned the action of the REC and described it as a “usurpation of the power of the returning officer”. The declaration of Aishatu Binani as the Adamawa state election’s winner was rendered null and void, and the election process was suspended.
Hudu Ari might be looking at jail time
The seemingly rogue REC, Hudu Ari, has been summoned to the INEC headquarters in Abuja. According to Section 120(4) of the Electoral Act 2022, he might be sentenced to 36 months imprisonment for announcing a false result.
On April 18, 2023, INEC announced that it hopes to close the controversial chapter on Adamawa’s governorship elections by Thursday, April 20, 2023. Nonetheless, the 2023 general elections have shown us so far that there are a lot of internal issues INEC needs to work on because it’s almost as clear as day that they’re too compromised to trust with conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria.