The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed the postponement of the governorship and state elections by a week.
Vreporters through Gazette Newspaper had earlier reported that the exercise had been moved from March 11, 2023 to March 18, 2023.
Sources in the commission had told this newspaper that more time was needed for the conduct of the exercise.
Confirming the postponement in a statement on Wednesday night, Barr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner & Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, said the commission needed time for the reconfiguration of the BVAS used for the Presidential election held on 25th February 2023.
He recalled that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex-parte order for some political parties 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.
“The commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Governorship 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.”
For instance, the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election. Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the governorship and State Assembly elections.
“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, inrcthe 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.
“By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16th March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election. 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 Card Readers (SCRs),” Okoye said.
Recall how the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja granted the request of INEC to reconfigure the BVAS it used for the presidential election.
The court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, held that preventing the commission from reconfiguring the BVAS would adversely affect the governorship and State Assembly elections.
It dismissed objections by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, against the request.