Our reporter| The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday night confirmed the postponement of the governorship and houses of assembly elections to March 18.
The elections were initially fixed to hold on March 11 across 24 states.
The electoral umpire took the decision at a meeting of the national commissioners late Wednesday.
Media reports earlier in the stated that INEC was mulling postponing the elections for various reasons.
In a statement late Wednesday, signed by Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner, and chairman, information and voter education committee, the commission explained that 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 18 March 2023. By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16 March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election,” the statement reads.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it 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 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the Smart. 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.
“We thank Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as we continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times.”
The court of appeal had earlier on Wednesday refused an application by Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), to restrain INEC from reconfiguring the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) ahead of the governorship and state assembly elections, the court however, directed INEC to allow Obi access to their servers for inspection.
Obi, had in an application through his lawyers sought an order of the court restraining the INEC from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection is conducted and certified true copies (CTC) of them issued.