The Independent National Electoral Commission has asked the Presidential Election Petition Court to vary the orders that were granted to the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, respectively, to inspect materials used for the last presidential election.
INEC, in a motion on notice filed on March 4, is praying the court to vary the order which restrained it from tampering with materials used for the election.
The commission said it needed to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System for the next round of elections.
The appellate court had on March 3 granted leave to Atiku and Obi to inspect election materials used by INEC in the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
A panel of the appellate court led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh granted the permission following two separate ex parte applications filed by Atiku and Obi, who came second and third respectively in the presidential election won by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress.
In the application filed by the commission and sighted by NAN, the commission is asking the court to vary the order to allow it to reconfigure its 176,846 BVAS for the March 11 governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
NAN reports that it is the sole prayer in the application of the electoral umpire filed at the court.
No date has however been fixed for hearing of the application.
According to a source, considering the number of BVAS required to conduct the election across the states, INEC needs to reconfigure the BVAS used for the February 25 elections and deploy them to polling units for the March 11 elections.
The source said that the technical team of the commission had to be deployed on time to start the reconfiguration of the devices, which had to be done one by one.
The official further said the order was pertinent as not getting it could result in the postponement of the Saturday governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
The credible source explained that the application became necessary following the order restraining INEC from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection was conducted and Certified True Copies of them were issued, noting that the commission would require sufficient time to reconfigure the BVAS needed to conduct the polls.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, could not be reached for a reaction on Monday as he did not respond to several calls and the text message sent to him on the issue.
Mean while, the PDP has said the ruling of the Court of Appeal granting its presidential candidate permission to inspect election materials had yet to be complied with by the electoral commission.
A member of the National Working Committee of the party disclosed this to Jozebrian Media on Monday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the NWC member stated that part of the reason for the protest by the party chieftains on Monday was the refusal of the commission to obey the order of the appellate court.
“The legal team of the PDP has not commenced the process of inspecting the documents used for the election, not because it is not ready but because INEC has not granted the team access to the materials.
“It is too early to say that they have an ulterior motive but they can’t deny us of our right. They can only delay the process but they cannot stop the PDP.
When contacted, the Director of Strategic Communications, National Election Management Committee of the PDP Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, stated, ‘’Don’t you think INEC has abused that ruling? They may also have appealed the ruling and if that is the case, there is nothing we can do in the interim.’’
Mean while, the PDP has welcomed the application by INEC seeking leave of the court to reconfigure the BVAS.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ibrahim Abdullahi, described the development as “A second litmus test of the INEC’s commitment to credible polls.”
But the All Progressives Congress on Monday night asked INEC to educate Nigerians on why it needed to reconfigure the BVAS ahead of Saturday’s election.