There is still legal issue to reckon with in relations to the declaration of the winner of the 2023 Adamawa Governorship election, especially that Sen. Aisha Binani will address the court on the issue of jurisdiction of the Federal High Court Abuja to entertain her experte motion soonest.
We have listened carefully the submissions made by the Binani’s counsel, Barr. Muhammad Sherif El-hasaan that they were not in court to challenge the conduct of the Governorship election in Adamawa but the legality of the declaration made by one of the INEC staff where Sen. Aisha Binani was returned as the winner of the election.
He stated that Sen. Binani has placed reliance on Section 149 of the electoral act 2022 (as amended) to justify reasons for approaching the Federal High Court, Abuja on the issue of the declaration.
We have carefully read the provision of the section 149 of the electoral act 2022 (as amended) and in our opinion there are grounds that Binani can seek for court intervention over her declaration as the winner of the 2023 Governorship election for Adamawa state.
The section reads “not withstanding any provision of this act, any defect or error arising from any action taken by an official of the commission In relations to any notice, form, or document made or given or other things done by the officials in pursuance of the provision of the constitution or of the act or any rules made there under remain valid unless otherwise challenged and declared invalid by a competent court of law or tribunal”.
For INEC to act in the contrary after the declaration made by Barr. Hudu Ari, it is a clear indicator that the commission is ill, and it required a surgeon to examine the extent of its ailments because Nigerians should not be taken for granted.
In our opinion, the Resident Electoral Commissioner Barr. Hudu Ari as a lawyer, cannot take these steps of going to the extent of making declaration of the winner of the Adamawa Governorship poll without the conspiracy of other elites within the Commission in Abuja.
As a lawyer, he knew his extent and his limitations, and he knew the powers that separate his official roles and functions and that of a state returning officer. And for him to assume the power of a returning officer and in the presence of the state police commissioner and state Director of SSS it is a clear indicator that Barr. Hudu might be acting on a written script.
On whether Aisha Binani has paid two billion for her declaration as alleged, that is an eye-opener for Nigerians to understand what INEC has degenerated to.
It is not the first time people are accussing INEC of selling a ticket to the highest bidder, and the case of Adamawa state has only succeeded in exposing the weakness of the commission in that direction.
In the case of Zamfara we have heard the trending audio of the INEC ad hoc staff exposing corruption in the open and the commission remain silent on the matter.
The action of Zamfara REC is also another alarming circumstances that affected the credibility and integrity of the INEC especially on the Birnin Magaji issue even where section 26 of the electoral act 2022 (as amended) is obvious on what INEC shall do in the event of its in ability to conduct election in certain registration areas of poking units.
It is our candid position that Sen. Binani should pursue the case on its merit and taste the applicability of the section 149 of the electoral act 2022 (as amended) so that INEC can be informed that the law is law, and it shall be respected regardless of whom it may influence.
We are not saying the declaration of Sen. Aisha Binani as the winner of the 2023 Governorship election for Adamawa is valid in the eyes of law, but she is also is entitled to apply the law where it was misused to her advantage so that INEC can learn its lesson and also be made to act according to the dictate of the law.
On whether the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear the experte motion on notice, I think section 149 of the electoral act 2023 (as amended) is clear because it does not restrict the powers of invalidity to the tribunal only but it extends the powers to include court of competent tribunal, and I am sure the lawyers would address the court appropriately.