INEC Shifts Governorship, Assembly Polls By One Week

INEC Has Revealed That The Governorship And House Of Assembly Elections Will Not Hold On Saturday.

9th March 2023 09:14 AM

The Independent National Electoral Commission has postponed governorship and state assembly elections, which was earlier scheduled for Saturday to March 18.

The electoral umpire made this known at its management meeting in Abuja, which started at 7pm and ended at 10pm, and was presided over by its National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye on Wednesday night, said it could not go ahead with the governorship poll as earlier scheduled because it needed time to reconfigure BIVAS machines, which were used for the presidential election on February 25.

The statement reads: “Following today’s (yesterday) ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) 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, 11thMarch 2023.

“Nigerians would recall that on 3rd March, 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 INEC LGA offices across the country.

“The Commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS 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 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 which is 24 hours before the new date for the election.

“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, it 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.

The postponement of the election, followed Wednesday’s rejection by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) of the request by Mr. Peter Obi and his Labour Party (LP) to restrain INEC from reconfiguring the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the governorship poll in 28 states and Assembly election in 36 states of the federation.

The appellate court panel held that allowing the objections of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, would amount to “tying the hands of the respondent, INEC.”

In the wake of the declaration of the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu as the president-elect, Obi had approached the appellate court where he secured an order restraining the commission from reconfiguring the BVAS used for the election.