HURIWA Faults Court Decision Permitting INEC TO Reconfigure BVAS, Says Judgement Anti-Democratic

…Reconfiguration Of BVAS Before Assessment Is Destruction Of Evidence

By Ed Malik, A | ed@ddnewsonline.com |
posted March 9, 2023

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Thursday faulted the 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 assembly elections.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the ruling of the court is 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 the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar who is challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls.

The group said the court has compromised its sanctity by aligning with the oppressors of the Nigerian people and by not being the hope of the common man.

In the ruling delivered on Wednesday, a three-member panel of the court of appeal led by Joseph Ikyegh held that restraining the electoral commission would constrain INEC from conducting the governorship and state assembly polls.

In an application, Obi and Atiku had sought an order of the court “restraining the 1st respondent (INEC) from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until the due inspection is conducted and certified true copies (CTC) of them issued”.

Obi and Atiku 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, INEC filed an application to vary the 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 can assess electoral items used in the last polls, INEC can go ahead and reconfigure BVAS.

INEC has since postponed the governorship and state assembly polls from March 11 to March 18 over the reconfiguration of BVAS.

HURIWA’s 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 to 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 ways to obtain justice. Public demonstrations are permissible under the law and we recommend this. Going forward, evidently, the corrupt Court system won’t give them redress but would maintain the status quo given that no presidential poll results announced have ever been annulled except when ex-dictator Sani Abacha staged a coup against the 1993 Presidential election that could have ushered in MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe. On the alternative, if these political contenders seeking the revocation of the pronouncement of INEC of Bola Tinubu as the winner of the controversial February 25th Presidential election do not wish to expose their members to the inevitable risks of being killed by police and soldiers that would be drafted by President Muhammadu Buhari who has a history of deploying soldiers to kill off peaceful protesters, they can as well press ahead with their already sabotaged cases up till the nation’s apex court for the purpose of historical reference. But honestly, the decision of the Appeal Court is like beheading someone’s pet and then consoling them by assuring them that the veterinary surgeons would fix back the damaged head. This decision is utterly unacceptable and amounted to injustice.”

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