Presidential election petition court rules in favour of Inec as it dismisses Labour Party plea on BVAS

NIGERIA'S Presidential Election Petition Court has granted the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) asking that it be allowed to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) it used for the recent presidential election.


On Saturday February 25, Nigerians went to the polls to elect a new president and Inec has subsequently declared Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the APC the winner. Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Inec chairman who served as the returning officer for the election, declared Asiwaju Tinubu the winner with 8,794,726  votes, defeating his nearest opponent, former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second with 6,984,520 votes.


Among the main gladiators in the contest were Asiwaju Tinubu, Alhaji Abubakar, ex-Anambra State governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and former Kano State governor Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP). However, the PDP and Labour Party have refused to accept the results, taking to the courts to challenge the APCs victory.


Today, the court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, held that preventing Inec from reconfiguring BVAS would adversely affect the forthcoming governorship and state assembly elections. It dismissed opposition by the Labour Party and Governor Obi, against the request, adding that allowing their objections would amount to tying the hands of Inec, the respondent.


Dismissing the objections Governor Obi and the Labour Party, the court held that the backup files on the server cannot be lost and that restraining Inec will affect the forthcoming governorship elections. Justice Joseph Ikyegh who presided over the panel, chided the applicants for repeating their request to be allowed to scan and make copies of the electoral materials in Inec’s possession, stating that it amounted to an abuse of court process.


In their ruling, the judges noted that Inec had in an affidavit filed before the court, assured that the accreditation data contained in the BVAS could not be tampered with or lost. Inec, through its team of lawyers insisted that granting the request by Governor Obi would affect its preparations for the impending governorship and houses of assembly elections.


Inec told the court that there were about 176, 000 BVAS machines that were deployed in polling units during the presidential election. After listening to arguments from both parties, the court agreed that Inec needed to be allowed to configure BVAS for the conduct of future elections.