Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says political parties are not allowed to witness the backup or reconfiguration of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines.
Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), had sought an order of the court restraining the INEC from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection was conducted and certified true copies (CTC) of them issued.
But Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to the INEC, had assured that no information in the BVAS would be lost during the reconfiguration as all data would be transferred to the commission’s backend server.
Making a ruling, the court said granting the application would amount to tying the hands of INEC and therefore refused to restrain the commission from reconfiguring the BVAS.
In an interview with Punch, Yunusa Tanko, chief spokesperson of the Obi-Datti campaign council, expressed the desire for INEC to invite parties to witness the backup process.
He said, “If there is going to be transparency, what INEC needs to do is to invite everybody with their technical experts to see what the commission intends to back up from the original source. Was this done?
“We didn’t want to use that as evidence in the court of law. INEC should not forget that we also have our own results. Anything contradictory to that particular result and what they backed up will be totally unacceptable to us.
“It is clear right from the beginning that INEC deliberately went to court for reconfiguration of the BVAS machines after Obi requested to inspect election materials. Of course, nobody, not even you and I, knew the commission could come up with anything like reconfiguration at this time. This was done after we demanded to inspect those machines.
“When you are going into an arrangement, it is always important to tell people about the rule of engagement and ensure you don’t change it. But INEC keeps on changing the rule of engagement in order to cover their shady deals. It is unfortunate that we have to bring INEC down to this particular level.”
Reacting, Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, told TheCable that while parties can watch the test run of the BVAS, external persons are not allowed to witness its reconfiguration and backup.
“The reconfiguration or data back-processes of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines is strictly an internal affair of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that no external eyes are allowed to witness. Of course, political parties are free to witness a test run of the BVAS, and they did during the mock accreditation exercise that we carried out before the general election,” Oyekanmi,e said.
“However, it’s really, really curious that the Labour Party would express any desire to witness such an activity. What exactly do they want to see? Would the party also want to witness when ballot papers and result sheets are designed and printed?
“It is like students demanding to be present when their teachers are determining examination questions.
“While the commission appreciates and maintains a very cordial relationship with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the boundaries are well defined and known to both parties.”