The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, postponed the governorship and states houses of assembly elections earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday to March 18.
The commission explained that its preparation for the earlier scheduled governorship election was halted by the court ruling, and was granted permission to proceed at a late time, thus could not reset all the BVAS to meet up with the time.
In a statement signed by the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the ruling of the tribunal makes it possible for INEC to commence preparation of the BVAS for the governorship and state assembly elections. “It has come far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded,” he said.
“Following today’s ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the Presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the commission met access its impact on the commission’s preparations for the governorship and state houses of assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, 11 March 2023,” the statement partly read.
In an application, the presidential candidate of PDP Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and of the Labour Party Peter Obi had sought an order of the court restraining the INEC from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines used for the presidential election until the due inspection is conducted and certified true copies (CTC) of them issued.
The Tribunal which also served as the Appeal Court on Friday gave an ex-parte order for PDP and LP to inspect materials, including the forensic inspection of over 176,000 BVAS located across the INEC LGA offices.
However, INEC filed an application to vary the orders of the court because of the forthcoming elections where the BVAS need to be reconfigured for the exercise.
The court on Wednesday, granted the INEC to reconfigure the BVAS ahead of the governorship polls but ordered the commission to store the information contained in the BVAS device in a secure location at its backend.
The electoral body further said that campaigns by the candidates will continue until midnight of March 16 March.
Okoye added: “Consequently, the commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to reschedule the Governorship and State Assembly elections which will now take place on Saturday 18 March 2023. By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16 March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the Smart However, we wish to reiterate that the Commission is not against litigants inspecting election materials. Consequently, it will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.
“We wish to reassure all political parties and candidates that the data from the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be backed up and available in INEC cloud facilities, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
“Political parties can apply for Certified True Copies of the backend data of the BVAS. Also, the results on the BVAS will continue to be available on the IReV for interested parties to access.
“We thank Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as we continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times.”