Court clears coast for prosecution of suspended Adamawa REC, Hudu Yunusa Ari

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, cleared the coast for prosecution of Adamawa state suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari who is relying on an interim court order to evade prosecution.

Justice Donatus Okorowo declined to extend his earlier order of July 10 that had barred temporarily the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from prosecuting Adamawa state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari.

The had issued the interim order stopping the prosecution of the suspended Adamawa state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari pending the hearing and determination of a motion filed by Senator Aishatu Dahiru, also known as Binani .

INEC is seeking the prosecution of the suspended REC for usurpation of the function of Returning officer by declaring the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Binani as winner of the Adamawa state governorship election on April 15, 2023 when the collation of results was not completed.

When the matter came up on Tuesday, INEC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the court that the applicant had not served the defendants with the July 10 order of the court.

Jacobs, also told the court that, the defendants have not been served with the originating summons filed by Binani had, in a counter affidavit to the motion that challenged the competence and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.

He told the court that the life span of the interim order elapsed on July 18, but counsel to Binani, Michael Aondoaka (SAN) argued that the interim order has not elapsed as the defendants have not shown cause as directed by the court.

According to Aondoaka, counsel to INEC cannot say he was not served with the processes of the court as he had joined issues in the matter.

Justice Okorowo however adjourned till Monday, July 24 for hearing in the originating summons served on the defendants in court on Tuesday.

The court refused to extend the interim order stopping the prosecution of the suspended Adamawa state REC.

In the suit marked, ABJ/CS/935/2023, the applicant is seeking the interpretation of section 144 of the Electoral Act 2022 by the court and a preservative order seeking the maintenance of status quo in the matter pending the determination of the suit.

Aondoaka, in the application, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the matter is before a tribunal and it is time-bound, whereas the star witness to his client, Hudu Yunusa Ari is being harassed and prevented from giving evidence before the tribunal which if continued, would jeopardize the case of his client at the tribunal.

He therefore, urged the court to halt the harassment of the star witness in the petition before a governorship election petition tribunal challenging INEC’s declaration of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and governor of the state, Ahmadu Fintiri as winner on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

The lawyer told the court that according to the relevant laws, since the applicant have been declared by the INEC, the declaration can only be legally and authentically reversed if the need be by a court of competent jurisdiction or a tribunal.

Senator Binani had earlier, through her counsel, Mohammed Sheriff filed a suit before a sister court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo which was however dismissed following a notice of discontinuance filed by the applicant.

The Adamawa state governorship supplementary election was conducted on April 15 following the declaration of the March 18 poll as inconclusive over alleged irregularities.

After voting ended, the collation of results began at the state collation centre, but the exercise was suspended after results from 10 LGAs were announced.

However, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, declared Senator Binani as the winner before the collation resumed on April 16.

Yunusa-Ari made the declaration when outstanding results were yet to be announced.The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) subsequently described his action as illegal, saying it is null and void, suspended him and set to prosecute him for electoral malpractice.