The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that it has shifted the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday, March 11 to March 18.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye in a statement issued in Wednesday night said this decision had not been taken lightly, but it was necessary to ensure that there was adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
The court had last week stopped the commission from tampering with the BVAS deployed in February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections in a motion on notice brought by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, this request was opposed by INEC, which claimed that the said BVAS machines which the plaintiffs sought a restraining order are to be deployed for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly election slated for March 11.
The commission had submitted that in order to deploy the BVAS for the March 11 polls, it would require their reconfiguration, praying the court against granting of the order so as not to stall the March 11 elections.
But, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has given permission to INEC to reconfigure the BVAS used for the conduct of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Okoye said: “Following today’s (Wednesday) ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the Presidential election held on 25th February 2023, the Commission met to assess its impact on the Commission’s preparations for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, 11th March 2023.
“Nigerians would recall that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex-parte order for some political parties to inspect materials used for the Presidential election, including the forensic inspection of over 176,000 BVAS used in the election which are located in INEC LGA offices across the country.
“The Commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Governorship and State Assembly elections and that the lack of a clearly defined timeframe for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the outstanding elections.”
Okoye said for instance, the BVAS could only be activated on the specific date and time of an election.