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 March 11 elections.
INEC had on March 4 approached the appellate court for an order allowing it to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used for the presidential and the National Assembly elections.
The electoral umpire explained that the reconfiguration is to enable it deployed the BVAS for the Saturday, March 11 governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
INEC, through its lawyer, Mr Inuwa Tanimu (SAN), in urging the court to grant its request said, the defendants have nothing to fear, since the information that would be wiped out during reconfiguration would be stored and kept save in its server in the cloud.
Tanimu, who noted that time is not on the side of the electoral umpire pointed out that if the earlier order is not varied, it may affect the conduct of the March 11 governorship and state Houses of Assembly election.
However, in their opposition to the application seeking the variation of the order, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu and Chief Emeka Etiaba both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, representing Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar respectively, argued that if the order is varied vital information needed in proving their case against the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election would be wiped out.
According to Ikpeazu, the real figure of accredited voters can only be gotten from the BVAS, adding that if the BVAS are tampered with in the name of reconfiguration, vital information would be lost.
In addition, the senior lawyer argued that the March 11 elections can be postponed if situation warrants so and accordingly urged the court to dismiss INEC’s application.
Meanwhile, Ikpeazu prayed the court to grant his clients permission to conduct a physical and digital forensic inspection of the presidential electoral materials as well as an order directing INEC to issue him a Certified True Copy (CTC) of registered voters and polling units results.
He argued that the request was to ensure that evidence are preserved before they are wiped out, noting that, information on the INEC server vary from day to day and that, it will be when information is gotten from the BVAS that it will be possible to prove incidence of over-voting in the election.
It would be recalled that candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, in their protest against the outcome of the presidential election, obtained an order of court to inspect the materials used in the conduct of the presidential poll, including the BVAS.
INEC had declared candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of the presidential election having scored the highest number of votes cast in the election.
Tinubu polled over eight million votes to emerge victorious, while Atiku came second with nearly seven million votes and Obi third, with a little above six million.
Similarly, both Tinubu and Atiku won 12 states each, while Obi won 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Dissatisfied, with the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election, both Atiku and Obi vowed to ventilate their grievances at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which is the court saddled with the responsibility of hearing and determining cases surrounding the conduct of presidential election.
While they are yet to file their respective petitions, Atiku and Obi in separate motion exparte sought for an order of court permitting them to inspect the materials used for the February 25 presidential election to enable them gather evidence needed in proving allegations of non-compliance and rigging of the poll.
After listening to their respective applications last Friday, Justice Ikyegh made an order permitting Atiku and Obi to inspect “All the electoral materials used in the conduct of the election for the office of the president of the Fed