INEC moves the assembly and governorship elections by one week.
Elections for state assemblies and governors, which were originally set for this Saturday, have been postponed by the Independent National Electoral Commission to March 18.
The commission decided to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation devices at its management meeting in Abuja, which was called on Wednesday after the Court of Appeal gave it permission to do so.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the National Chairman, presided over the meeting, which lasted from 7 to 10 o’clock.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the organization was unable to hold the governorship election on February 25 as originally planned because it needed time to reconfigure BIVAS voting machines, which were used for the presidential election.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal had given INEC authority to modify the BIVAS system used for the presidential election.
According to the appellate court panel, granting the Labour Party’s and its presidential candidate Peter Obi’s concerns would “tie the respondent, INEC’s hands.”
Following the proclamation of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner, Obi went to the appellate court and won an injunction prohibiting the commission from changing the configuration of the BVAS used for the poll.
In its decision on Friday, the court issued an order allowing Obi and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party to examine the sensitive materials used to conduct the poll.
However, the electoral board contended that the BVAS machines needed to be modified for the gubernatorial and state assembly elections, so it sought the court to modify its order prohibiting it from interfering with them.
The LP standard bearer and a retinue of party heavyweights were present for the proceedings on Wednesday. The panel, chaired over by Judge Joseph Ikyegh, disregarded Obi and his party’s concerns and determined that the backup data on the server could not have been lost.
Restricting INEC will have an impact on the governorship election scheduled for next Saturday, Judge Haruna Tsammani stated in the lead decision.
He also chastised the applicants for repeatedly asking to scan and copy the electoral papers INEC had in its possession, calling it an abuse of the legal system.
Tsammani cited INEC’s assurances in an affidavit that was submitted to the court that the accreditation information included in the BVAS could not be altered or lost.
The lawyer added that neither Obi nor LP submitted a counter-affidavit to refute INEC’s claims in its affidavit.
preventing or limiting the respondent (INEC) from using the BVAS machines for any other purpose, especially in light of the upcoming gubernatorial and Houses of Assembly elections on March 11, 2013, Tsammani stated.
The motion by INEC for a change of the earlier orders of the Presidential Election Tribunal was dismissed as meritless by Judge James Abundaga, who provided the lead opinion.
Because the tribunal never issued an order allowing any petitioner to access the electoral body’s database scientifically, according to Abundaga, the concern voiced in the motion by INEC was unnecessary.
He declared, “We issued the orders of March 3, 2023, which this applicant seeks to vary. In none of those orders did the court give the applicants permission to access the applicant database (INEC).
Thus, the worry that the instructions we issued, if not altered, will reveal the names of the voters and who they chose to support, is unfounded.
We made the orders while being very aware of the court’s authority to do so under the Electoral Act, particularly Section 74 of the Act, in order to give the respondents in this case (Obi and LP) easy access to electoral materials for the purpose of instituting and maintaining their petition, should they ever decide to file one. “We take judicial notice that other applicants submitted similar requests to acquire electoral materials for the purpose of instituting petitions.
The court did not allow the applicants authority to electronically open the applicant’s database in any of those orders, the court reminds the respondents, in case any of them were misinformed.
The commission had not yet begun distributing electoral materials in many states when the court awarded INEC permission to reconfigure the BVAS.
The court had been informed by the commission on Tuesday that the BVAS reconfiguration process would take two to three days.
However, INEC noted in the statement on Wednesday night that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal had issued an ex-parte ruling on March 3 allowing various political parties to examine materials used for the presidential election, including the forensic examination of more than 176,000 BVAS.
Given that the BVAS systems were to be used for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, as well as the potential disruption caused by the lack of a clearly defined deadline for the examination, INEC also stated that it has asked the tribunal to rethink the order.
For instance, the BVAS can only be engaged at a certain election’s day and time. It is necessary to modify the BVAS for activation on the day of the Governorship and State Assembly elections after it was used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, 2023,” it stated.
Even if the tribunal’s decision allowed INEC to start preparing the BVAS for the gubernatorial and state assembly elections, the organization continued, “it has come far too late for the reconfiguration to be completed. As a result, the Commission has made the challenging but essential decision to move the Governorship and State Assembly elections to Saturday, March 18, 2023. By virtue of this ruling, campaigns will run through Thursday, March 16, 2023, at midnight (i.e., 24).
The electoral umpire defended its choice by stating that the delay was required “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 February 25, 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections. This has been the custom during every election, even when the Commission was utilizing smart card readers.
It said that it would continue to give all litigants access to the resources they needed to advance their arguments in court and that it was not opposed to litigants looking into election materials.
We want to reassure all candidates and political parties that the information from the Presidential and National Assembly elections would be stored and accessible in INEC cloud services, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV). Political parties are eligible to request Certified True Copies of the BVAS’s backend data.
According to The DAILYUPDATES, unlike during the presidential election when the distribution of sensitive information began in many states on Wednesday, February 22, the procedure had not yet begun in many states as of Wednesday night at 6 o’clock (yesterday).
The distribution of the materials should have begun on Wednesday morning, according to the State Resident Electoral Commissioners who spoke with our correspondents, but it was postponed while they awaited instructions from INEC headquarters and the outcome of the commission’s lawsuit regarding BVAS reconfiguration.
Distribution of Materials
Mr. Monday Tom, the resident electoral commissioner in Delta State reported that they had not started distributing election materials because they were awaiting instructions from INEC headquarters.
We don’t have permission from the national (headquarters) to disseminate materials, he declared.
We have yet to distribute because the court case prevents us from doing anything because we are still in court.
INEC in Osun
Seun Osimosu, the INEC representative in Osun State, also stated that the court issue about the BVAS prevented the distribution of sensitive documents for the poll on Saturday from taking place on Wednesday as originally intended.
She assured that the development would not influence the planning for the state assembly elections and stated that the commission will move forward with its preparation after the court’s ruling on the case.
‘’Due to the BVAS reconfiguration case, we were unable to distribute the sensitive materials today (Wednesday). The court is still considering the case.
“BVAS is crucial to the electoral process, which is why we’re awaiting the court’s decision to determine what to do next.
The delay won’t have an impact on preparation because, once we obtain the go-ahead order, we’ll make sure to work nonstop to create a credible procedure, she said.
Even though Bayelsa State won’t host a governorship election, Wilfred Ifogah, the office’s head of voter education and publicity, said that as of Wednesday night, the distribution of materials for the state house of assembly election hadn’t begun.
Results also show that the election commission has delayed distributing sensitive materials to Cross State’s 18 local government units.
The Head of Voter Education, Tonia Nwobi, confirmed this in a text message on behalf of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, and attributed the development to the lawsuit.
“Dear Mister,” she said. In light of the Court of Appeal’s decision regarding BVAS, I would like to tell you that the management of INEC Cross River State has postponed the inspection of sensitive materials at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar branch scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at 7am.
Ekiti State, where the election materials were waiting to be distributed to the 16 local government areas, experienced the same issue.
Temitope Akanmu, the INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, stated, “The sensitive election materials are here at the CBN branch in Ado Ekiti. We are awaiting instructions, and we will begin the distribution as soon as one is issued.
The INEC spokesperson declared that the electoral body was prepared for the state’s 26 state constituencies.
He added that everything was prepared for the refresher training sessions for the various categories of ad hoc personnel that INEC National Chairman Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu had requested prior to the election.
Only the state assembly elections will be held by the commission in Ekiti State because the governor’s race had already completed in June 2022.
Niyi Ijalaye, the REC in charge of Ogun State, confirmed that the distribution of voting materials had not started.
On Wednesday, he said in an interview with our correspondent in Abeokuta, “The materials are intact with the CBN. Due to the judicial process, we have not called the stakeholders. The national (headquarters) has not given us an instruction.
The governorship election was being prepared for in full force in Benue State.
The delivery of electoral materials, according to the state’s REC, Prof. Sam Egwu, was halted by the BVAS lawsuit.
The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Wale Abass, organized a meeting with political figures, and the REC participated in it.
He claims that the commission is making every effort to solve the difficulties encountered during the previous election.
We have been making every effort to ensure that the election on Saturday goes off without a hitch, but I hope we are all aware of the court matter, added Egwu.
“INEC had gone to court on the issue of BVAS and by 2pm today (Wednesday), we will know the situation of things.’’
In the meantime, the commission started batching and distributing critical electoral materials in Kwara State on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters at the CBN branch in Ilorin, Mr. Julius Yagba, the state administrative secretary of INEC, said the materials will be dispersed around the state’s 16 local government areas.
He claims that the goal of batching is to ensure that the materials are distributed on time.
The commission in Sokoto stated that the items would be distributed starting on Thursday following an examination by party officials and other interested parties on Wednesday night.
The panel had originally scheduled the distribution of the sensitive materials for Wednesday, but after talks with party leaders and security personnel, the activity was postponed.
In order to oversee the governorship election, INEC National Commissioner Maj Gen Modibo Alkali (retd.) was sent to the state from Abuja and promised the locals that the voting would be impartial and trustworthy.
All votes cast without BVAS are invalid, he said.