Governorship Election: INEC heads to court over BVAS re-configuration
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will on Monday approach the Appeal Court for an order to allow it to reconfigure its Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the March 11 state elections.
A credible source in the commission hinted on Sunday to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the order was significant following an order restraining it from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies of them were issued.
The source, who requested not to be quoted, said that INEC would require sufficient time to reconfigure the BVAS needed to conduct the election that would take place in all 36 states of the federation, except the FCT.
“The commission’s Legal Department is actually preparing an application to be filed in court on Monday to seek an order for it to reconfigure its BVAS for Saturday’s Governorship and state House of Assembly election,” the source said.
The source explained that, considering the number of BVAS required to conduct the election across states, INEC needed to reconfigure the BVAS used for the March 25 elections and deploy them to polling units for the Saturday election.
The source added that the INEC technical team had to be deployed on time to commence the reconfiguration of the devices, which had to be done one by one.
The source said the order was important if the Saturday Governorship and state Houses of Assembly election must hold as scheduled, otherwise postponement of the election became inevitable.
NAN recalls that the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday granted leave to the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, to have access to all the sensitive materials used by INEC for the conduct of the Feb. 25 presidential election.
A panel of the appellate court led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh made the order after hearing two separate ex parte applications the two aggrieved presidential candidates filed alongside their political parties.
Specifically, the applicants urged the court to compel INEC to allow them to obtain documents it used for the presidential election to aid their petitions against the outcome of the presidential election.
“An order granting the applicants’ permission to do electronic scanning and make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the election for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on the Feb. 25.
“An order granting leave to the applicants to carry out Digital Forensic Inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the Feb. 25 election for the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The plaintiffs also sought an order restraining INEC “from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies of them issued”.
The court, in its consideration, ordered INEC to allow the applicants to inspect all the electoral materials used in the conduct of the presidential election.
The court permitted the appellants to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the presidential election.
“That leave is hereby granted to the applicants to carry out Digital Forensic Inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the Feb. 25, 2023 Election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the court ordered.