By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The suspended Independent National Electoral Commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa Ari, Esq. has petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) urging it to stay action on the alleged moves to refer him to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for disciplinary action against him.
Ari argued that the subject matter of his actions is pending before the Adamawa State High Court in Charge No. HC/ADSY/15/2023, which was filed on July 5, 2023.
He submitted that the move to discpline him will amount to double jeopardy since the matter is subjudice before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Mr President, your
alleged anticipated referring me to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee may result in double jeopardy against me and a breach of my fair hearing contrary to the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as Amended” Ari stated.
He expressed optimism that the alleged plans to refer him to the LPDC will remain only an allegation, adding that the “Nigeria Bar Association, has been in the forefront of advising against comments or taking steps on matters pending before courts of law in the overall interest of justice”.
“It is in the light of the above, especially the pending cases and criminal charge on the same subject matter, that I request that you stay any action regarding the subject matter of my duties as Resident Electoral Commissioner during the Adamawa Gubernatorial Elections and to refrain from referring the matter to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, as to do otherwise would violate sections 144, 145 and 149 of the Electoral Act; Section 36 of the Constitution and; will grossly undermine the proceedings in the various courts” Ari wrote.
The acknowledged copy the petition by Ari, titled: Re: Fallout Concerning My Role As Resident Electoral Commissioner Concerning The 2023 Adamawa State Governorship Election, Request For Stay Of Action Thereto” was dated August 21, 2023, and addressed to the NBA President.
Ari said his letter was informed by reports and speculations in the media space that he would be referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee following his role at the Adamawa State supplementary Gubernatorial Elections of the 15th April, 2023.
As a member of the NBA and a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, Ari told the NBA President that the circumstances which led to his actions as the INEC’s REC, which is allegedly the loadstar of his reference to the disciplinary committee is also the subject matter in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023; charge no. HC/ADSY/15/2023, and Election Petition No. EPT/AD/GV/01/2023, are all pending before superior courts of record in Nigeria.
Ari explained that the various suits are seeking the interpretation of sections 144 and 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022, regarding the proprietary or otherwise of his declaration of Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru as winner of the Adamawa Gubernatorial Election.
“Indeed, on 22nd July, 2023, I would have had an opportunity of presenting those facts at the Adamawa State Governorship Tribunal, for the benefit of the whole public and for posterity’s sake, but for the sustained objection of the Respopondents who objected to my being a witness in the Petition of Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru” Ari told the NBA.
He reminded the NBA President, that as legal practitioners, “we have been admonished to refrain from making comments on issues that are still pending before the courts so as not to prejudice them.
“With the preceding in mind, I am constrained, out of my deepest respect for the NBA and the rule of law, to only, briefly, state the facts, in order keep you abreast with the events that led to the subject matter of the alleged intention to bring me before the Disciplinary Committee and which, as I earlier mentioned, is still subject of various litigations.
“I would continue to maintain the position, due to documents available to me and now before the Tribunal that on the 15th April, 2023, I was compelled by the prevailing circumstances at the time and for the need to uphold the integrity of the Commission to declare Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru as winner of the Adamawa Gubernatorial Election based on the vacuum created as a result of the complicity of the Returning Officer and two National Electoral Commissioners aimed at thwarting the transparency of the said elections.
“It is pertinent to note that the Commission, who is the 1st Respondent in the Election Petition, which basically revolves round the lawfulness or otherwise of my declaration, resulting to my suspension from duty, litigations and the speculations of disciplinary action against me, listed 25 witnesses but could not produce any. The same applies to the 37 Respondent, PDP, who listed 15 witnesses.
“Similarly, the 2nd Respondent, His Excellency, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri listed 15 witnesses but was only able to secure one hostile witness who gave evidence in support of the Petition” Ari told the NBA President.