Saturday’s Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections across the country could be postponed, except the appellate court reverses itself on the relief it granted the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party LP counterpart, Peter Obi.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was barred by the court last week from altering the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used in last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
Obi in his application moved by his team of lawyers, led by Mr Alex Ejesieme, SAN, sought six principal reliefs, while Atiku’s lawyer, Adedamola Faloku, sought seven prayers from the tribunal.
An order allowing the applicants permission to electronically scan and copy voter registration information and ballots used in the conduct of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s presidential election conducted on February 25, 2023, was among the reliefs requested by the plaintiffs.
“An order granting leave to the applicants to carry out Digital Forensic Inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the 25th February 2023 election for the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The plaintiffs also sought an order restraining “the First Respondent from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies of them issued”.
The court granted the reliefs and stated the following regarding the BVAS: “That leave is hereby granted to the applicants to carry out Digital Forensic Inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the 25th February 2023 Election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Nonetheless, it is anticipated that INEC will use the same BVAS for the subnational elections, necessitating the commission’s reconfiguration and fit for purpose.
Checks by Vanguard revealed that it takes an average of five days to configure the BVAS, meaning that the commission has to begin the process of reconfiguration latest by Tuesday.
The commission would be asking the courts to overturn the ruling, according to a source in one of the state offices of the commission who asked not to be named because the matter was so sensitive.
He said: There are over 176,000 polling units. The BVAS is polling units specific, which means that you cannot do a mass reconfiguration. The machines have to be reconfigured individually and those take an average of five days.
“If we leave the BVAS as the court has ordered, it simply means that we cannot use them for the state elections. So, we are approaching the court to seek a way out”.