INEC challenges 2023 PDP and LP Presidential candidate Atiku, Obi’s suit on BVAS
Independent National Electoral Commission has asked the Presidential Election Petition Court to vary the orders that were granted to the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, respectively, to inspect materials used for the last presidential election.
INEC, in a motion on notice filed on March 4, is praying the court to vary the order which restrained it from tampering with materials used for the election.
The commission said it needed to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System for the next round of elections.
The appellate court had on March 3 granted leave to Atiku and Obi to inspect election materials used by INEC in the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
According to a source, considering the number of BVAS required to conduct the election across the states, INEC needs to reconfigure the BVAS used for the February 25 elections and deploy them to polling units for the March 11 elections.
The source said that the technical team of the commission had to be deployed on time to start the reconfiguration of the devices, which had to be done one by one.
The official further said the order was pertinent as not getting it could result in the postponement of the Saturday governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
The credible source explained that the application became necessary following the order restraining INEC from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies of them were issued, noting that the commission would require sufficient time to reconfigure the BVAS needed to conduct the polls.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, could not be reached for a reaction on Monday as he did not respond to several calls and the text message sent to him on the issue.
“The commission has to explain to the members of the public. For us, we are not here to defend, support or criticise INEC. No, we won’t do that. This is because we as the ruling party also look forward to a free and fair process ahead of Saturday’s election and things have to be done legitimately.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, told The PUNCH that Nigerians should not always be quick to raise suspicions over any demand that the commission might make.
“So, if INEC decides there is a technical note to reconfigure all their systems in order to conduct the next elections, I am quite sure that the course of approach in making the appropriate decision at the right time to authorise INEC to do what is necessary would be approved by the court.
“I don’t see where the cause for the alarm is. But I think the media can help us by going to INEC to clarify why they need to, technically speaking, reconfigure those BVAS,” he stated.
However, the Labour Party described INEC’s move on the BVAS reconfiguration as medicine after death.
Speaking with our correspondent, Akin Oshuntokun, Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council said the party had lost faith in the activities of the electoral commission.
He said, “Anything INEC does, it does on its own. We don’t know where this one is going to end. INEC is not a body anyone should be associated with. They are not worthy of the trust of Nigerians.”