The REC said he acted within his powers to announce the winner of the election based on valid results collated by the legally-appointed and recognised collation officers for the election.
Yunusa-Ari, who was on Tuesday arrested by the police for interrogation, said his action was meant to forestall a breakdown of law and order and to prevent further manipulation of the election process.
He wants the apology published in two national dailies “for the unlawful and unconditional media trials and negative press interviews, press statements/releases, social media posts, publications etc against the applicant for carrying out his duties as the REC in Adamawa State during the supplementary governorship election held on April 15, 2023.”
He claimed in the suit that was filed before his arrest, that two INEC National Commissioners (whose names he failed to disclosed) sent to the state for the supplementary election sidelined him in their efforts to compromise the election process.
Listed with INEC as respondents in the suit are the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Nigeria Police Force (NGF), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The REC stated in a supporting affidavit that on the day of the election, some armed policemen from the state Government House stormed his house at about 10am and held him on house arrest to prevent him from engaging in his lawful duties.
He added: “It took the intervention of the Commissioner of Police, who sent Mobile Policemen to my house and when the policemen at my house heard that a call was made to the Commissioner of Police, the policemen from Government House fled in a White Toyota Hilux Van.
”In view of the time constraint and obvious risk to my life and to conclude the supplementary elections and to forestall the breakdown of law and order, I organised a meeting comprising my co-chair, who is the Commissioner of Police, Director of Security Services, Commandant of Civil Defense Corps, and others on the way forward.
“The action of the National Commissioners and threats by political parties over the process of collating results created an atmosphere of violence that almost marred the election and most of the stakeholders were scared and refused to continue with the election process including the Returning Officer (RO).
“It was based on the assurance of Mr. Bello Babajo, that I compiled all the polling unit results and declared the winner of the election based on the highest number of valid votes scored.
“Prior to the declaration, there was an intelligence report made available to me that the two National Commissioners of the fifth respondent were at the Government House Yola, at 8:31pm on 15/04/2023 Adamawa State…
“My action is within the responsibility vested on me and within the ambit of the law, particularly the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.”
He said the press statements, interviews and social media posts by the National Commissioner for Voters Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye and other INEC portrayed him being guilty of a criminal offence, when he was not arraigned in court and found so guilty by any competent court of law.
He said: “This media trial is a gross violation of my rights to fair hearing and is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“The media trial embarked upon with distorted facts by the respondents particularly the 5th respondent are intended to give me bad name as a cover up for the wrongs done by agents of the 5th respondent in the Adamawa supplementary governorship election held on the 15th April 2023.”
At the mention of the case on Wednesday, Okutepa told the court that all the respondents have been served with court presses, but were absent.
Okutepa said by the rule of the court, they were entitled to five days within which to respond, which expired on May 3.
He prayed the court to grant a short adjournment for the hearing of the case.
Ruling, Justice James Omotosho adjorned till June 1 and ordered that hearing notices should be served on the respondents.