Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has explained that it needed time to back up the data used in the last Presidential and National Elections held in Nigeria on February 25, 2023, hence it decided to postpone the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections from March 11th to March 18th, 2023.
According to statement issued by Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee on Wednesday evening, the decision of the commission to postpone the elections is sequel to the Presidential Election Appeal Court Tribunal that uphold the request of Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate to carry out forensic audit on the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS.
INEC was earlier restrained by the Court from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies (CTC) issued to candidates who are challenging the outcome of the presidential election.
The INEC Press release reads thus:
“RESCHEDULING OF GOVERNORSHIP AND STATE HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
“Following today’s ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the Presidential election held on 25th February 2023, the Commission met to assess its impact on the Commission’s preparations for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, 11 March 2023.
“Nigerians would recall that on 3 March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex-
parte order for some polical 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 INEC Local Government Area 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
time frame for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the
“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 elecions.
“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 25 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.
“However, we wish to reiterate that the Commission is not against litigants inspecting election materials.
“Consequently, we will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.
“We wish to reassure all political parties and candidates that the data from the
Presidential and National Assembly elections will be backed up and available in INEC cloud facilities, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
“Political parties can apply for Certified True Copies of the backend data of the BVAS.
“Also, the results on the BVAS will continue to be available on the IReV for interested parties to access.
“We thank Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as we continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times”.