PRESIDENT-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday asked the Police to investigate the controversy that trailed the Adamawa State governorship re-run, urging aggrieved candidates to pursue legitimate means of addressing their grievances.
Tinubu gave the charge in a post-election assessment statement he personally signed, yesterday, as Adamawa State governor-elect, Umaru Fintiri, supported moves to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of what he described as the criminality behind the drama that played out at the governorship rerun.
This is even as the Federal Government, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari did not intervene in the governorship drama in Adamawa State because the matter was within the purview of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to handle.
Tinubu spoke as the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi, summoned Adamawa State Commandant, Muhammad Bello, to the Corps headquarters in Abuja to explain his role in Sunday’s failed attempt by the suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, to usurp powers of the Chief Returning Officer in unilaterally declaring the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate, Aisha Dahiru, also known as Binani, as governor-elect.
On Tuesday, the Inspector-General of Police IGP, Usman Baba Alkali, redeployed Adamawa State Police Commissioner, CP Mohammed Barde, over his role in the election saga.
Tinubu salutes winners, tasks them with service to constituents
Tinubu, who congratulated winners of Kebbi and Adamawa supplementary governorship elections, said: “I also rejoice with those elected into the Senate, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly during the last round of elections in states where such took place.
‘’These victorious men and women have earned the trust of their people and I call on them to rededicate themselves to the service of their respective constituents.
“The supplementary polls have now brought the 2023 elections to a final, fitting conclusion. I observed, with satisfaction, the largely peaceful atmosphere that pervaded the supplementary election on Saturday.
‘’It was further testimony that our citizens have accepted democratic norms and have unalloyed faith in the electoral process.
“However, I note the matter of the Adamawa supplementary governorship election and I urge police authorities to fully investigate all that transpired in the election, given the attendant controversy.
‘’In every democratic contest, there has to be one winner. I call on those aggrieved to pursue legitimate means of addressing their grievances.
“With the conclusion of the 2023 elections, I now welcome all of us who have been elected to brace up to serve our people with diligence and dedication and to join hands with me as your President-elect in the pursuit of our agenda to renew the hopes of our people in a better, stronger, more secure, economically vibrant and prosperous Nigeria.”
Fintiri seeks prosecution of ‘criminality’ behind the poll drama
Also, Fintiri, who collected his certificate of return alongside other elected candidates, yesterday, insisted that those who tried to undermine the electoral process in Adamawa must be prosecuted.
The INEC declared Fintiri, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, winner on Tuesday amid political intrigue that saw his closest rival, Senator Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru of the APC being declared the winner on Sunday, while collation was still underway.
“I think everybody has learnt his lesson,” Fintiri said during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, last night after his victory was made official
“INEC itself, as an umpire, has learnt a lot of lessons and it has corrected its wrongs so that it can protect itself as an institution.
“The police that is supposed to protect democracy became caught up in the whole saga. It’s unfortunate. It’s a disgrace.
“But I think everybody is picking up and they are trying to correct their wrongs. Time will tell if these people will be properly prosecuted. But if they don’t prosecute this criminality that took place in Adamawa State, I am going to prosecute them.”
He did not identify those he thought should be prosecuted.
However, INEC had since resolved to write the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to probe and prosecute the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Adamawa State, Hudu Ari.
Similarly, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, ordered the immediate replacement of the Commissioner of Police on election duty in Adamawa, Mohammed Barde, with his counterpart in Gombe State, CP Etim Equa.
Asked to share his perspective on a rare instance of a governorship race with a woman as a front-runner, Fintiri argued that Binani was not the one he ran against.
“I don’t think I have run against any woman in Adamawa State. I ran against enemies of democracy outside Adamawa State and their gang-up has not got anywhere. I think, for now, we give God the glory,” he said.
On who was ganging up against him and why, the governor said: “They decided to be enemies of democracy and the only scapegoat they could find is in Adamawa State. They wanted to put a woman (from) their party, forgetting that we have performed excellently well in Adamawa State, our people love us.”
NSCDC boss summons Adamawa commandant
As part of moves to investigate the Adamawa election saga, NSCDC Commandant-General, Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi, yesterday, summoned Its Adamawa State Commandant, Muhammad Bello, to the Corps headquarters in Abuja. Bello is to explain his role in the Adamawa election controversy.
“Given the controversy surrounding the just concluded Adamawa State governorship rerun election where the Corps was accused of complicity, along with other security agencies, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Abubakar Audi, has summoned the State Commandant, Muhammad Bello, to the Corps’ National Headquarters, Abuja”, said Director of Public Relations at the NSCDC Headquarters, Commandant Olusola Odumosu.
According to him, the CG directed the state commandant to immediately hand over affairs of the command to his immediate subordinate to allow him time to provide the management of the Corps with an explanation of the role he played in the exercise.
Dr Audi emphasised that NSCDC was a non-partisan, non-political organisation that would not tolerate the involvement of personnel or any of its formation in political controversies as widely alleged.
“I have summoned the state commandant to national headquarters to face the management team and explain himself in clear terms.
“We are renowned for our integrity, neutrality and non-partisanship in election matters, that is why we will not take the case of Adamawa lightly.
“I have ordered him to hand over the command to his immediate deputy because his role in the rerun election is currently being investigated and if he is found culpable, then he will have himself to blame,” the CG said.
Fintiri, others get certificates of return
Meanwhile, INEC, yesterday presented certificates of return to the re-elected governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, and his deputy.
Similarly, members of the National Assembly-elect (Senators and House of Representatives) also collected their certificates of return.
Speaking after receiving his certificate of return yesterday, Fintiri, who declared himself a veteran of inconclusive elections, apologized to INEC for the attacks on two of its national commissioners by hoodlums, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
Fintiri, whose security details earlier barred journalists and INEC staff from accessing the commission’s conference hall, said: “It is unfortunate that we have to go through all these to arrive at this moment today.
‘’This should have been finished and done since March 18. But unfortunately, because of the attitude of some individuals among us, and some discretions of some politicians, it has to drag this long for us to be here.
‘’But thank God, INEC with very wonderful and excellent personnel, has redeemed the whole process. They redeemed the image battered by so-called REC and today, Nigerians have cause to celebrate democracy.
“Going forward, we should learn from the lessons that we went through in the last week so that we can continue to build on the process and on our democracy as stakeholders.
“One apology I have to make is what happened to the two excellent national commissioners in my state. I take the blame, and I apologize. Sorry for what the hoodlums did for the mistaken identity.
“For Nigerians and the international community that have stood for this democracy, I say thank you. Yes, it was my toughest election because of the external manipulation that was coming from Abuja.
‘’They were interested in seeing that they strangle democracy and you can see to your dismay that even the security agencies that are supposed to protect our democracy were involved in strangulating democracy in Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, the military had to get involved to save democracy in Adamawa. It is quite unfortunate.
“I have become a veteran of inconclusive elections and I have learnt a lot. I know that I won the election on March 18, 2023, squarely from the beginning”.
Why Buhari didn’t intervene in the Adamawa poll debacle—FG
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told State House correspondents yesterday that President Buhari did not intervene in the Adamawa poll controversy because the INEC National Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, could tackle it.
Mohammed stated this at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister, who also explained why during a trip to the United States recently, he said the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, should be tried for treason, maintained that the just concluded elections in the country were the most transparent and rancour-free elections in recent times due to the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, adding that President Buhari did not use security to rig elections in favour of the ruling party.
Asked why Buhari did not intervene in the alleged misconduct of Adamawa REC, Mohammed said the INEC Chairman was saddled with the responsibility of handling election matters.
“I don’t think this government has ever intervened in the way INEC conducts elections, so there was no need for us to intervene. It was entirely an INEC affair and INEC handled it.
“The chairman of INEC is in charge of all employees of INEC and he is handling it, so what do you want the government to do?
“The President does not micro-manage any institution under him. I think you should go and ask INEC. INEC handles all these agencies,” he said.
Reminded that INEC had written a petition to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, to take the alleged unwholesome display of the Adamawa REC to the President, he maintained that the INEC chairman was capable of handling the matter.
On his trip to the US and why he accused Mr Peter Obi of treason, he explained that since Obi did not rebuke his running mate, Datti Baba Ahmed, for saying that if the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was sworn in on May 29, that would be the end of democracy in the country, it meant Ahmed said the mind of Mr Obi.
He said: “I went to the US to balance the skewed report about the just-concluded elections. And everywhere I went, I said very unambiguously that the last general elections in Nigeria were the most transparent, freest and authentic.
“That’s despite the efforts of the opposition to delegitimize or discredit the elections. And I forwarded my position there that a few reasons why these elections were the best was because, one, deployment of technology, especially BIVAS, made it pretty difficult for anybody to do the usual things before which were over-voting, stuffing ballots and the like, because once it takes your biometrics you can’t go twice.
“Secondly, I said because the President also showed that he promised that he will provide a level-playing ground which he did. In the first instance, Mr President did not confer any advantage on his ruling party.
“That is why as far as he was concerned, he would rather lose the election than win at all costs and the results showed it. The President lost the presidential election in his state of Katsina. It has never happened in Nigeria, for a sitting President to lose the election in his own state.
“I went further to say that the president also prevented anybody from misusing security to rig elections. Of course, the last election is largely the least violent in the history of Nigeria.
“What I said about Mr Peter Obi is very clear. I said, Mr Peter, has every right to seek redress in court like Labour Party. But nobody has the right to call for insurrection or to threaten to say that if the President-elect is sworn in that would be the end of democracy.
“That was precisely what the running mate of Mr Peter Obi said on television. And I have not heard Peter Obi rein him in or correct him. So, if your running mate says something, of course, he was saying it on behalf of the party and the candidate.”