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“No Political Party is Allowed to Witness the Reconfiguration Process of the BVAS” – Fetus Okoye INEC National Commissioner

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that no political party is allowed to witness the reconfiguration process of the BVAS otherwise known as Biometric Verification System or the biometrics of voters.

BVAS is the equipment that INEC uses to accredit voters before they can vote, without it the electorates would not be able to cast their votes.

no political party is allowed to witness the reconfiguration process of the BVAS - INEC
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

It is the same machine that uploads the results from polling units to the INEC portal for public viewing. Festus Okoye, an INEC National Commissioner, made this announcement on television recently during a brief interview. He said that no political party is allowed to witness the reconfiguration process of the BVAS

This statement came after the Court of Appeal granted the request of the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to inspect the electoral materials. The INEC also was granted permission by the court to reconfigure the BVAS for the sake of the upcoming gubernatorial election which was postponed as a result of later approval by the court.

Both parties had claimed that reconfiguring the BVAS could tamper with the information contained in it. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission swore an affidavit before the Federal High court in Abuja stating that all the information on the BVAS would not be tampered with. The BVAS are over 177,000+ in number, according to the numbers of polling unis available.

The ruling All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu, won the February 25th presidential election, polling 37% of the votes. His closest rival, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, polled 29%, while Peter Obi of the Labour Party polled 25%. Both Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi have vowed to challenge the results in court. This was as a result of traces of electoral malpractice that was witnessed in different polling units in the country. Most of the evidences available involved two opposition parties, APC and PDP. Their agents were involved in trying to manipulate the election results of some polling units. States that were affected in a significant way include: Lagos State, Rivers State, and Kogi State. These states suffered great voter intimidation and electoral misconduct.

In addition to the above, INEC also gave an update on the reconfiguration of the BVAS machine, stating that it hopes to complete the resettling of the BVAS for the governorship and state assembly elections by Tuesday.

This will ensure that the results for all the places where elections were held will be pushed to the accreditation backend.

The governorship and state assembly elections will take place on March 18, with 28 states holding governorship elections out of the 36 states in the country. The winners of all the elections will take their oaths of office on May 29 according to the constitution.

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which sits at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, has given INEC the go-ahead to reconfigure the BVAS used in the presidential election.

The BVAS is a new voting device used for cross-checking voters’ names in the Register of Voters. It was introduced to replace the smart card reader that was used before. The BVAS is more accurate than the smart card. The president signed it into usage to help curb electoral fraud.

Read More: Obi In Court: Only INEC has the right to collate verified results 

It authenticates voters using their fingerprints or facial features. It also has a camera and the capacity to take pictures of the polling unit-level results and upload them to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal for citizens to view as the election progresses. In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices, the court ruled that if INEC is stopped from reconfiguring the BVAS, it will affect the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections.

The court dismissed the objections raised by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, against INEC’s move to reconfigure all the BVAS. INEC on it’s part has refused to grant any political party access to witness how the BVAS are being reconfigured. No political party is allowed to witness the reconfiguration process of the BVAS – the national commissioner of INEC said.

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