Court declines to extend order restraining INEC from prosecuting suspended Adamawa REC



The federal high court in Abuja has refused to extend its interim order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from prosecuting Hudu Yunusa-Ari, suspended Adamawa state resident electoral commissioner (REC).


Yunusa-Ari had stirred controversy when he declared Aisha Binani Dahiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) 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.


On April 20, former President Muhammadu Buhari approved the suspension of the Adamawa REC pending the completion of investigation by the police.


Afterwards, INEC said they have filed a six-count charge against Yunusa-Ari before a high court in Yola, while July 12 was fixed for the commencement of trial.


However, in an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, Binani through her 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, presiding judge, ordered the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum, pending the hearing and determination of the matter.


The judge had 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.


At the resumed court session on Tuesday, Rotimi Jacobs, INEC lawyer, informed the court that the applicant had not served the respondents with the court’s July 10 order.


Jacobs who also contested the competence and jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter in a counter affidavit to the motion, stated that the lifespan of the interim order expired on July 18.


However, Aondoaka, argued that the interim order cannot expire since the defendants had not shown cause as directed by the court.


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


The judge refused to extend the interim order previously granted.


He adjourned the matter to July 24.


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