HURIWA faults court order permitting INEC to reconfigure BVAS
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, faulted decision of the Court of Appeal, permitting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) ahead of the governorship and state legislative elections.
The group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the ruling was “anti-democratic as electoral evidence, in this case the BVAS, will be tampered with in the process of the reconfiguration, and this will maliciously affect the case between INEC and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, who are challenging outcome of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly polls.”
In the ruling delivered on Wednesday, a three-member panel, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, held that restraining the electoral umpire would constrain it from conducting the governorship and state assembly polls.
Obi and Atiku had, via an application, sought an order of the court “restraining the first respondent (INEC) from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection is conducted and the certified true copies (CTC) of them are issued.”
Both last Friday, secured leave of the court to have access to all the sensitive materials used by the INEC in the conduct of the election held on February 25.
However, the defendant filed an application to vary orders of the court. Though the court rejected the prayer of INEC, it also rejected the prayer of Obi, saying though Obi’s lawyers and team could assess electoral items used in the last polls, INEC can go ahead and reconfigure the BVAS.
The electoral body has since postponed the governorship and legislatives polls from March 11 to 18 to allow reconfiguration of the BVAS.
Onwubiko said: “Our position is that the cases of Obi and Atiku are now damaged irreparably by the court’s decision. It would’ve been better to postpone the guber poll by a sufficient time and let litigants go through materials to assist them prove their cases than tamper with evidence through a kangaroo court system.
“HURIWA is of the opinion that Atiku and Obi should pull out of the court and opt for civil protests to oppose the decision of the court to mount a wedge on their way to obtain justice. Public demonstrations are permissible under the law and we recommend this.”