Saturday’s Governorship 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 court had last week stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC from tampering with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS deployed 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.
Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs was: An order granting the applicants permission to do electronic scanning and make photocopies of voter’s 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 25th day of February 2023.
“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 with regards to the BVAS, said; “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.”
However, INEC is expected to deploy the same BVAS for the subnational elections, meaning that the commission will have to reconfigure them and make them fit for purpose.
Vanguard checks 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.
A source in one of the state offices of the commission who did not want his name mentioned due to the sensitivity of the issue however said the commission would be approaching the courts to vacate the order.
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”.