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2023 Presidential Election: BVAS Data Remain Intact After Reconfiguration – INEC Tells Court

…. Peter Obi storms tribunal, awaits ruling on INEC’s BVAS request

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said information in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, used for February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls are intact.

The lead counsel to the Commission, Tanimu Inuwa, gave this assurance at the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Tuesday.

INEC is opposing an application filed by the Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on BVAS deployed in the presidential poll.

Opposing the application, Inuwa argued it would delay the conduct of governorship and state houses of assembly elections scheduled for Saturday.

Recall that earlier, Obi’s lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had argued that the essence of the application was to enable the legal team to extract data embedded in the BVAS, “which represent the actual results from polling units.”

“My Lords, this is to ensure that the evidence is preserved before the BVAS are reconfigured by INEC.

“This is because if they are wiped out, it will affect the substance of the case,” Ikpeazu added. However, INEC, through its team of lawyers comprising four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, led by Inuwa, urged the court to refuse the application.

INEC insisted that granting the request by Obi would affect its preparations for the impending governorship and houses of assembly elections.

It told the court that there were about 176,000 BVAS machines that were deployed in polling units during the presidential election. “Each polling unit has its own particular BVAS machine which we need to configure for the forthcoming elections. It will be very difficult for us, within the period, to reconfigure the 176,000 BVAS.

“We have already stated in our affidavit that no information in the BVAS will be lost as we will transfer all the data in the BVAS to our backend server. “We need the BVAS configured. So, granting this application will be a cog in the process and may delay the conduct of the elections,” INEC’s lawyer, Inuwa (SAN), pleaded.

After listening to the parties, Justice Joseph Ikyegh adjourned ruling on the matter till Wednesday.

The court issued the restraining order in the ruling it gave on Friday granting permission to the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and Obi to inspect the sensitive materials used for the conduct of the February 25 election.

Atiku and Obi obtained the order to challenge the outcome of the election which they alleged was marred by fraud and other irregularities.

INEC on March 1 declared the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the election. But the PDP and the LP candidates are contesting the outcome.

They subsequently filed separate ex parte applications, praying to be granted access to inspect sensitive materials that INEC used to conduct of the presidential poll.

But INEC, in a motion on the notice filed on March 4, asked the court to vary the order restraining it from tampering with materials used for the election.

The commission said it needed to reconfigure the BVAS for the next round of elections, which would be held on Saturday.

READ ALSO : Nigeria’s Presidential Election Not Conducted In Line With INEC’s Guideline – Chatham House 

Peter Obi storms tribunal, awaits ruling on INEC’s BVAS request

Candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, has stormed the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to await ruling on request by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be allowed to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, it used for the presidential election.

Obi arrived the tribunal in the company of some of his supporters, among whom was the Senator-elect for Anambra Central Senatorial District, Chief Victor Umeh.

The tribunal is expected to also rule on request by the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to be granted access to sensitive materials INEC used for the presidential election that held on February 25.

Both Obi and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, had urged the court to refuse INEC’s request.

For Saturday’s elections
INEC had insisted that the reconfiguration was necessary since the BVAS would also be deployed for the next round of elections, starting with governorship and state assemblies elections billed for Saturday, as well as other rescheduled elections.

It maintained that without a prompt variation of the order the court earlier granted to Obi and Atiku, especially the aspect restraining it from tampering with information contained in the BVAS, it would be difficult for it to proceed with the scheduled elections.

However, Obi and his party, in a fresh application marked: CA/PEC/09m/23, also sought permission to be allowed to conduct physical inspection of all the BVAS that were used for the presidential poll.

Obi and the LP, through their team of lawyers led by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), said the essence of their application was to enable them to extract data embedded in the BVAS, “which represent the actual results from Polling Units”.

READ ALSO : February 25th Presidential Poll Failed To Meet Nigerians’ Expectations –  US Ambassador Gives Reasons

They specifically applied for; “leave to carryout digital forensic and physical inspection of BVAS, etc”, as well as to obtain the Certified True Copy, CTC, of all the data in the BVAS.

“My Lords, this is to ensure that the evidence is preserved before the BVAS are reconfigured by INEC.

“This is because if they are wiped out, it will affect the substance of our case,” Ikpeazu (SAN), added.

Election

INEC had declared Tinubu of the APC as winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.

According to INEC, Tinubu, scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Obi of the LP who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.

However, both PDP and the LP rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge it in court.

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