Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission has postponed the governorship and state assembly elections till March 18.
While citing a logistics crisis stemming from BVAS configuration and transportation, the exercise initially scheduled to hold on March 11, may no longer be feasible. Its executives are currently meeting at INEC headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday evening.
Authoritative sources told News Central that the commission is currently holding a meeting, where it was considering either March 18 or March 25 for the elections. It was however learnt that March 18 was chosen.
“The elections were postponed to allow one more week for preparations. You know that the BVAS re-configuration would take three or four days,” the source stated.
The commission would require that all the machines be moved to the headquarters in Abuja, for reconfigurations before deploying them to various polling units.
Confirming the development in a statement, Barrister Festus Okoye, National Commissioner & Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, said the commission needed time for the reconfiguration of the BVAS used for the Presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
Okoye explained that on March 3, 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 various 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.
“For instance, the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election. Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the governorship and State Assembly elections.
“While the ruling of the tribunal makes it possible for the commission to commence the preparation of the BVAS for the governorship and state assembly elections, it has come far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded.
“Consequently, the commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to reschedule the governorship and state assembly elections which will now take place on Saturday 18th March 2023.
“By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16th March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election. This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary 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 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the commission was using the Smart Card Readers (SCRs),” Okoye said.
The commission had convinced the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to vary its order granting Peter Obi of the Labour Party and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar permission to inspect the election materials on the premise that it had to reconfigure the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) for the conduction of the polls this Saturday.
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