INEC Asks Court to Allow It Reconfigure BVAS For March 11 Elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja, praying it to vary the orders it granted for candidates of the Labour Party, LP, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to be allowed to inspect sensitive materials that were used for the presidential election.
INEC, in its legal process dated March 4, urged the appellate court, which will sit as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, to vary the order to enable it to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, it used for the presidential poll.
It told the court that the configuration 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.
According to INEC, without a prompt variation of the inspection order granted to Obi and Atiku, especially the aspect restraining it from tampering with formation contained in the BVAS, it would be difficult for it to proceed with the scheduled elections.
It will be recalled that the a three-member panel of the court, last Friday, gave Obi and Atiku the nod to have access to all the sensitive materials the INEC deployed for the conduct of the presidential election that held on February 25.
The panel, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh made the orders after it heard two separate ex-parte applications the two aggrieved presidential candidates filed alongside their political parties.
Cited as respondents in the matter were INEC, the acclaimed winner of the presidential election, Bola Tinubu, as well as his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Both applications were predicated on Section146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, Paragraph 47 (1, 2 &3) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act of 2022, as well as under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court as referenced by Section 6 (6) A & B of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
While Obi, in his application marked CA/PEC/02M/23, which was moved by his team of lawyers led by Mr. Alex Ejesieme (SAN), sought six principal reliefs, Atiku’s lawyer, Mr. Adedamola Faloku, sought seven prayers from the tribunal.
Specifically, the applicants persuaded the court to compel INEC to allow them to obtain documents in its custody that were used for the presidential election.
They maintained that the requested documents would aid their petition against the outcome of the presidential contest that was declared in favour of candidate of the APC, Tinubu.
More so, Obi and Atiku obtained order of the court granting them leave to file the application, outside or before the pre-hearing session of the planned substantive petitions.
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.
Both PDP and LP had since rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge it in court.
Under the Electoral Act 2022, any candidate dissatisfied with the return made by the INEC, shall within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the result of the election, file a petition before the tribunal.
An election tribunal shall deliver its judgement in writing within 180 days from the date the petition was filed.