The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has officially declared that the State Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections slated for Saturday, 11th March 2023 has been rescheduled for 18th March 2023.
The National commissioner and chairman, Information and voter education committee,Bar Festus Okoye made this known in a press release issued to news men in abuja on Wednesday.
Bar. Okoye said the postponement was as a result of the rulling by the Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) on reconfiguration of the Bimodial Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the presidential election held on the 25th February, 2023.
He said the commission met to assess the impact on the commissions preparations for the governorship and State House of Assembly elections originally scheduled for 11th of March, 2023.
” 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.” He said
Bar. Okoye further stated that campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16th March 2023 i.e. 24hours before the new date for the election.
He said decision is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25h February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
He stated that it has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the SmartCard Readers.
He however reiterated 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.
He further reassured 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).
He said 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.
This is coming a few days to the scheduled elections.
Recall that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex-parte order for the Labour Party and People’s Democratic Party 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.
Inec had pleaded with the Tribunal to reconsider the ruling, claiming that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Govemorship and State Assembly elections and that the lack of a clearly defined timeframe for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the outstanding elections.
Nigerians are anticipating the results of this all important elections come 18th March, will there be an improvement on the electoral process? Hope our votes will count.
These and many more questions linger on the heart of Nigerians.