The Abuja Court of Appeal set Tuesday Wednesday to rule on an application by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requesting a review of its orders allowing Peter Obi to inspect electoral materials used for the conduct of the presidential elections.
The appeals court authorized Mr. Obi to inspect the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines and other sensitive materials that INEC deployed for the February 25 elections.
The court had prevented INEC from tampering with the BVAS machines.
But INEC approached the appeals court to vary the orders. The electoral referee explained that he needed to reconfigure the BVAS machines and redistribute them for this Saturday, March 11, the state governor and parliamentary election.
In the resumption of the lawsuit proceedings on Tuesday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Joseph Ikyegh scheduled Wednesday 8 March to deliver judgment after taking the lawyers’ arguments to INEC and Mr Obi.
INEC lawyer Tanimu Inuwa, Chief Advocate for Nigeria (SAN), urged the court to revise the earlier order to allow the election arbitrator to reconfigure the BIVAS machines for deployment in the more than 1,000 voting units in Nigeria.
“No data or information will be lost in the course of data transfer from BIVAS to (INEC’s) backend server or cloud,” Mr. Inuwa explained.
He argued that any delay in granting the request would delay the completion of Saturday’s state gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections.
But Mr. Obi’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), disagreed with INEC.
Mr. Ikpeazu argued that reconfiguring BIVAS would alter data that had been stored in it since the presidential election and the National Assembly election.
He asked the court to dismiss INEC’s application.
In a related development, the appeals court set Wednesday for a hearing on a similar request filed by INEC over Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.
Atiku also obtained permission from the court to inspect the election materials used for the ballot box.
The separate lawsuit could not be heard on Tuesday because Atiku’s lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), needed time to respond to the INEC submission.
In the two separate ex parte applications, Atiku and Mr. Obi, along with their political parties, urged the court to compel INEC to allow them to obtain the documents it used for the presidential election to assist in their petitions against the outcome of the presidential election. presidential election.
“An order granting applicants permission to electronically scan and make photocopies of voter registration, ballot papers used in the conduct of the election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on February 25.
“An order granting applicants permission to carry out a Digital Forensic Inspection of the BVAS machines used for the conduct of the February 25 election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In addition, the duo sought an order preventing INEC from “tampering with information embedded in BVAS machines until due inspection has been carried out and certified true copies have been issued”.
The court under consideration ordered INEC to allow applicants to inspect all electoral material used in the conduct of the presidential election.
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The court allowed the appellants to electronically scan and/or make photocopies of the voter registration, ballot papers used in the conduct of the presidential elections.
“Applicants are hereby granted permission to carry out Digital Forensic Inspection of the BVAS machines used for the conduct of the elections on February 25, 2023 for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” ordered the court.