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BVAS data intact, INEC tells court, parties

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that information in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System used for February 25 presidential poll is intact.

The electoral commission lead counsel, Tanimu Inuwa, gave the assurance on Tuesday at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, while opposing an application filed by the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on BVAS deployed in the presidential poll.

Opposing the application, Inuwa argued it would delay the conduct of governorship and houses of assembly elections scheduled for Saturday.

Earlier, Obi, lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, had argued that the essence of the application was to enable the legal team to extract data embedded in the BVAS, “which represent the actual results from polling units.”

Obi’s lawyers also applied to obtain the certified true copy of all the data in the BVAS.

“My lords, this is to ensure that the evidence is preserved before the BVAS are reconfigured by INEC. This is because if they are wiped out, it will affect the substance of the case”, Ikpeazu added.

However, INEC, through its team of lawyers comprising four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, led by Inuwa, urged the court to refuse the application.

INEC insisted that granting the request by Obi would affect its preparations for the impending governorship and houses of assembly elections.

BVAS machines

It told the court that there were about 176, 000 BVAS machines that were deployed in polling units during the presidential election.

“Each polling unit has its own particular BVAS machine which we need to configure for the forthcoming elections. It will be very difficult for us, within the period, to reconfigure the 176,000 BVAS.

We have already stated in our affidavit that no information in the BVAS will be lost as we will transfer all the data in the BVAS to our backend server.

We need the BVAS configured. So, granting this application will be a clog in the process and may delay the conduct of the elections”, INEC’s lawyer, Inuwa, SAN, pleaded.

After listening to the parties, Justice Joseph Ikyegh adjourned ruling on the matter till Wednesday.

The court issued the restraining order in the ruling it gave on Friday granting permission to the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar and Obi to inspect the sensitive materials used for the conduct of the February 25 election.

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Both Atiku and Obi obtained the order to challenge the outcome of the election which they alleged was marred by fraud and other irregularities.

INEC on March 1 declared the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu as the winner of the election but the PDP and the LP candidates are contesting the outcome.

They subsequently filed separate ex parte applications, praying to be granted access to inspect sensitive materials that INEC used for the conduct of the presidential poll.

But INEC, in a motion on the notice filed on March 4, asked the court to vary the order restraining it from tampering with materials used for the election.

The commission said it needed to reconfigure the BVAS for the next round of elections which would be held on Saturday.

PDP backs LP

Meanwhile, the PDP has pledged its support for Obi’s suit on the preservation of the data on the BVAS.

Speaking with The PUNCH on Tuesday, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ibrahim Abdullahi said the PDP shared the stand of the Labour Party on the issue.

He said, “The PDP has built a working relationship with the Labour Party. The disappointment that LP witnessed with the election is the same that PDP is expressing today. Some of the expectations the LP had in the electoral process, PDP had as well and we are both disappointed with the outcome of the 25 February election.

What is churned out by the Labour Party is a product of concerted efforts and agreement with the PDP.

The Labour Party does not speak without having discussed with the PDP because we have realised that the only way to forge ahead and exert pressure on the system is to speak together. We are united against this anomaly.”

The publicity secretary further called on the electoral umpire to address the issues raised by concerned Nigerians and election observer groups rather than pretending that it did well during the presidential election.

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