The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja this Wednesday granted the request by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to be allowed to reconfigure its Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BIVAS) which was deployed in the February 15 presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
In applying for that permission, INEC claimed it needed to reconfigure the system so it could deploy it for the governorship and states’ Houses of Assembly elections slated for March 11.
Expectedly, INEC’s request generated outrage in large sections of the Nigerian society. Many people argued that reconfiguring the BIVAS machines would wipe off the records of the presidential polls which have been widely disputed. Indeed, the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi as well as the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar had sought and obtained the permission of the court to inspect materials used for the disputed presidential election. The All Progeressives Congress and its candidate who has been declared by INEC as president-elect, Ahmed Bola Tinubu have also been granted the go-ahead by the same court to inspect the same election materials.
The Labour Party and its candidate filed a counter request to that of INEC at the court, claiming that granting the commission’s prayer would cancel the records and evidence contained in the BIVAS and make it impossible for them to back up their claims about irregularities in the presidential election.
In granting INEC’s request, the court held that granting the prayers of Obi and the Labour Party would tie down the hand of the commission and make it difficult for it to conduct the governorship and States’ Houses of Assembly elections slated for Saturday, March 11.
The court accepted INEC’s claim that every information in the BIVAS had been saved in its back-up server and could be assessed anytime. The court based its ruling on the ground that all the averments made by INEC in its counter affidavit were not challenged by the Labour Party and its candidate. So. INEC’s claim that all information in the BIVAS is saved and safe in its back-end server and could be assessed at any time was believable.