Due to its inability to commence the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, machines on time, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has postponed the governorship and state assembly elections fixed for March 11 to March 18
The Court of Appeal, yesterday, gave the commission the nod to reconfigure the BVAS used for the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly polls in readiness for the state elections.
Confirming the postponement, the Head of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Organisation of INEC in Ondo State, Funke Segun-Osifeso said: “This is to inform you that the House of Assembly election has been officially postponed till Saturday 18/02/2023
“Therefore, the distribution exercise slated for tomorrow has been cancelled. I’m sorry for the inconvenience”
The INEC hierarchy, Vanguard gathered was still meeting over the matter last night and was yet to clear the issue at press time.
Another source in INEC told Vanguard that another reason the election may be postponed is insecurity.
It was gathered that following the violence that characterized the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, some Adhoc staff are afraid of coming out to conduct the March 11 elections.
The source said: “Some of the Adhoc staff are afraid to come out to conduct the elections because of what happened during the Presidential election.”
Vanguard had on Monday exclusively reported that the elections could be postponed, except the appellate court reversed itself on relief it granted the Presidential Candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party, LP counterpart, Peter Obi.
Both the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye and the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi were not immediately available for comments.
Confusion over postponement
Indeed, there was confusion within the nation’s political circles on Wednesday night, following speculations that the INEC might have postponed governorship and state assembly elections.
Vanguard had on Monday exclusively reported that the elections could be postponed, except the appellate court reversed itself on relief it granted the Presidential Candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party LP counterpart, Peter Obi.
However, a source said the election is most likely to be postponed because the reconfiguration of the BVAS machines may not be concluded before Tuesday
The court had last week stopped the INEC from tampering with the 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 were; “An order granting the applicants’ permission to do electronic scanning and make photocopies of voter’s registration, 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 sub-national 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.