The Independent National Electoral Commission has postponed governorship and state assemblies elections earlier scheduled for Saturday to March 18.
The commission took the decision at its management meeting in Abuja, which was convened on Wednesday after the Court of Appeal gave it the go-ahead to reconfigure Bimodal Voter Accreditation machines.
The meeting, which started at 7 pm and ended at 10 pm, was presided over by its National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
In a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye on Wednesday night, INEC said it could not go ahead with the governorship poll as earlier scheduled because it needed time to reconfigure BIVAS machines, which were used for the presidential election on February 25.
The Court of Appeal had earlier on Wednesday granted permission to INEC to reconfigure BIVAS used for the presidential election.
The appellate court panel held that allowing the objections of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, would amount to “tying the hands of the respondent, INEC.”
- 2023: Bola Tinubu Wins Nigeria’s Presidential Election
- Breakdown of 2023 Nigeria Presidential Election
- #NigeriaDecides2023: Labour Party Rejects Presidential Election Results
In the wake of the declaration of the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu as the president-elect, Obi had approached the appellate court where he secured an order restraining the commission from reconfiguring the BVAS used for the election.
The court handed down the order in the ruling it gave on Friday granting permission to Obi and his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart, Atiku Abubakar to inspect the sensitive materials used for the conduct of the election.
But the electoral body in an application asked the court to vary its order restraining it from tampering with the BVAS machines, which it argued, had to be reconfigured for the governorship and state assembly polls.
Delivering its ruling during proceedings on Wednesday which was attended by the LP standard bearer and a retinue of party bigwigs, the panel presided over by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, dismissed the objections by Obi and his party and held that the backup files on the server could not be lost.
Delivering the lead ruling, Justice Haruna Tsammani, said restraining INEC would affect next Saturday’s governorship election.
He also chided the applicants for repeating their request to be allowed to scan and make copies of the electoral materials in INEC’s possession, stating that it amounted to an abuse of the court process.
Tsammani noted that INEC had in an affidavit filed before the court assured that the accreditation data contained in the BVAS could not be tampered with or lost.
The jurist further stated that neither Obi nor LP filed a counter-affidavit to challenge the argument in INEC’s affidavit.