Aisha Binani, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is stalling her case before the election tribunal in the state,thecable report.

At the court session on Monday, Chiesonu Okpoko, Binani’s counsel, told the tribunal that Hudu Yunusa-Ari, suspended Adamawa state resident electoral commissioner (REC), who is supposed to be the star witness in the case is being harassed and prevented from appearing before the panel.

Yunusa-Ari had stirred controversy when he declared Binani as the winner of the Adamawa governorship election when the collation of the results was yet to be completed.

INEC declared the announcement null and void and summoned the REC to its headquarters in Abuja.

Subsequently, the commission wrote to the police to prosecute Yunusa-Ari over the electoral infraction.

Yunusa-Ari was later suspended and INEC announced that a six-count charge has been filed against him before a high court in Yola,  the capital of Adamawa. 

July 12 was initially fixed for the commencement of the trial.

However, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, Binani through her lead counsel, Michael Aondoaka, moved the ex-parte motion to stop Yunusa-Ari’s prosecution.

The counsel to the APC candidate argued that until the election petition tribunal decides Binani’s fate in accordance with section 149 of the electoral act, 2022, the prosecution of Yunusa-Ari cannot be said to be valid.

Donatus Okorowo, the presiding judge, ordered the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum, pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

The judge also ordered the respondents — INEC, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and the inspector-general of police (IGP) — to show cause why the reliefs sought by Binani should not be granted.

But on July 18, the court refused to extend the interim order and fixed Monday for the hearing of the originating summons served on the defendants.

Upon resumed hearing, Okpoko, who held the brief of Aondoaka, said the suspended REC is critical to his client’s case at the tribunal.

He said prosecuting Yunusa-Ari would pose a likelihood of bias in the tribunal’s decision.

The lawyer prayed the court to restrain the respondents from prosecuting Yunusa-Ari pending the determination of Binani’s petition at the tribunal.

He further submitted that the applicant was not arguing against the prosecution of the suspended INEC official, but that the commission and others should wait until the tribunal gave its judgment within the 180 days prescribed by law.

Responding, Adebisi Adeniyi, who held brief for Rotimi Jacobs, prosecution counsel, disagreed with Okpoko’s submission.

Adeniyi argued that the charge preferred against the suspended REC was bailable which would allow him to give his testimony before the tribunal after he has been granted bail.

The lawyer said that Binani had not presented any evidence before the court to show that Yunusa-Ari was listed as a witness in her petition.

He also argued that the applicant had also failed to show evidence that the suspended REC had either been invited, arrested or charged.

Adeniyi added that there is no way the prosecution of the suspended REC will affect the plaintiff’s petition.

He also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit, adding that the suspended REC ought to be the one to file the suit before the state high court.

The suit has been adjourned to October 13 for judgment.


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