The Commissioner for Information and Voter Education of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Festus Okoye, has said the commission lacks the power to declare wanted its Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa, Hudu Ari.
The REC had got into trouble for usurping the powers of the Collation Officer for Adamawa State to announce the result of supplementary governorship poll and errorneously declaring the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Aishatu Dahiru, aka Binani, as the winner of the poll.
INEC had since written the Inspector General of Police to investigate and prosecute the REC, while the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), ordered that Ari be suspended, probed and possibly prosecuted.
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INEC, however, said the whereabouts the REC was unknown as he had refused to take phone calls.
The commission’s spokesman, Okoye, who spoke when he appeared on Arise Televisionon Sunday, added that there were enough leads that would help the police to arrest the REC.
On what the commission was doing to ensure that the REC was located, Okoye said, “The commission has written officially to the Inspector General of Police detailing some of the infractions which the INEC Residential Electoral Commissioner committed and aksing for a thorough investigation of his actions and also asking that the police should find out if he had accomplices in the infractions which he committed.
“The police force has responded to the letter written to them by the commission and advised that they had commenced investigations in relation to his whereabouts and secondly relating to the infractions which he committed. So, that is where we are now.”
Asked if INEC would advise the police to declare Ari a wanted person, Okoye said, “It is not within the province of the commission to dictate to the police force how to carry out its investigation and how to do its work. They have various sources of information and they have various procedures and processes through which they carry out their work. We are hopeful and confident that the information available to them at the moment that they will be in a position to determine when to declare him wanted if they don’t know where he is. Some people took Hudu Ari out of Yola on the day he actually made the so-called declaration. So, there should be some leads to where the Resident Electoral Commissioner is. The Commissioner of Police was with him at the purported declaration, a director in the Department of State Services was with him during the purported declaration and some people took him out of the collation centre. So, some of those individuals have a lead or information on his whereabouts.”
Okoye also addressed the claims by the All Progressives Congress candidate in the Adamawa State governorship election, Aisha Dahiru, aka Binani, that INEC officials held nocturnal meetings with the incumbent governor who was eventually declared the winner of the election.
“Since she has made the allegation, it is incumbent on her to provide evidence of such nocturnal meeting to the investigation authorities and to the police, and she has a responsibility to do that. Do you also know that it is an offence for an individual to know about the commission of an offence and hoard such information from the police and authorities?” he said.