The Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC), sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Wednesday, gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the nod to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), it used for the February 25 presidential election.
Although, the court had earlier granted the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his counterpart in the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, the request to inspect election materials including the BVAS used in the February 25, presidential election.
Counsel for the LP, Onyechi Ikpeazu, had said his team needs a physical inspection of the BVAS to enable them carry out a forensic inspection used for the poll.
While INEC had on March 4, asked the Court to vary the request, in his defence on Tuesday, Counsel to the Electoral Commission, Tanimu Inuwa, asked the court to dismiss the application for the inspection of BIVAS on the ground that it will cause serious delay in the governorship election for March 11.
Inuwa said there are 176,000 polling units across the country and each have its own unique BVAS machine which needs to be configured and it will be very difficult for them to configure such within a short period.
He assured that no data will be lost as they have transferred the data to their backend server.
In a ruling on Wednesday, a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, held that stopping the electoral body from reconfiguring the BVAS would adversely affect the impending Governorship and State Assembly elections.
The panel however , asked INEC to upload data to back-end server and make true Certified copy to the respondents .
The court dismissed objections by the LP, and its presidential candidate, Obi, against INEC’s application to reconfigure all the BVAS.
According to the court, allowing the objections by Obi and his party, would amount to “tying the hands of the Respondent, INEC”.
The court noted that INEC had in an affidavit it filed before it, assured that the accreditation data contained in the BVAS could not be tampered with or lost, as they would be stored and easily retrieved from its accredited back-end server.
It further observed that neither Obi nor LP controverted the depositions in INEC’s affidavit, stressing that since such averments were not challenged, it amounted to admission by the Applicants.
Attending the Court proceedings on Wednesday, were Peter Obi, the LP presidential candidate for the February 25 elections.
He was accompanied to the Tribunal by the national chairman of the party, Julius Abure, and Senator Victor Umeh, among other chieftains.
Counsels to Atiku and the PDP, Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Emeka Etiaba (SAN), amongst others, were also physically present in court.
Onyinyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Alex Ejesieme (SAN), appeared for Obi and the LP while Omosanya Popoola, and Akintola Makinde appeared for Tinubu and the APC.