Politics and prosecutorial hurdles could lead to release of ‘Fleeing’ Adamawa REC

Politics and prosecutorial hurdles could lead to release of 'Fleeing' Adamawa REC

The possibility of prosecuting the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa Ari, is low despite receiving a letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) detailing the alleged impropriety of his actions during the just concluded controversial supplementary election in Adamawa, and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) directing an investigative team to expedite action on the contents of the letter.

This is because the REC has not been apprehended to aid the investigation authorised by President Muhammadu Buhari and there is confusion regarding the appropriate body to do so if that is to happen.

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Adamawa governor, Umaru Fintiri, had insisted that he would prosecute the REC while some stakeholders argue that the law allows INEC to prosecute him, others insist that the appropriate authority to prosecute the suspended REC is the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, maintained that the primary prosecutorial authority in the case lies with INEC by virtue of Section 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022. Similarly, Douglas Pepe (SAN) agreed that INEC has exclusive powers under section 145 of the Electoral Act to prosecute electoral crimes such as the crime of making a false declaration of result provided by section 120(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Pius Danba, a lawyer, insists that the AGF and the state Attorney General (AG) have the power to prosecute. For Walson Jack, the suspect has not been arrested and charged with any offence yet, an indication that the authorities might not actually be serious in making him face the law.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebute Moses, argued that INEC is a creation of the National Assembly and the Constitution of Nigeria. He also held that the police are responsible for prosecution of all offences, whether federal or state.

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On the fears that the suspect may escape prosecution Moses said such fears are unfounded. Also, an Abuja based lawyer, Jerry Aondo dismissed the fear that the suspect could evade prosecution through exercise of wrongful prosecutorial powers.

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