- INEC confirms postponement of guber polls to March 18th
- Court orders INEC to upload results from polling units To IReV
- Court refuses Obi’s request to stop INEC from reconfiguring BVAS
- Obi won presidential poll, not Tinubu – Afenifere
- Buhari, Sanwo-Olu commiserate with Lagos market fire victims
Across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, these are the five top Nigerian news stories you shouldn’t miss:
INEC confirms postponement of guber polls to March 18th
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has shifted the conduct of the governorship and houses of assembly elections to March 18.
The elections were initially fixed to hold on March 11 across 24 states.
It was reported that the commission was considering postponing the election and would make a decision at a meeting of the national commissioners on Wednesday night.
On Wednesday, the court of appeal refused an application by Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), to restrain INEC from reconfiguring the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) ahead of the governorship and state assembly elections.
INEC, in a statement late Wednesday signed by Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee, said while the ruling of the tribunal makes it possible for the commission to commence the preparation of the BVAS for the governorship and state assembly elections, “it has come far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded”.
“Consequently, the commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to reschedule the Governorship and State Assembly elections which will now take place on Saturday 18 March 2023. By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16 March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election,” the statement reads.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the Smart However, we wish to reiterate that the Commission is not against litigants inspecting election materials. Consequently, it will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.
“We wish to reassure all political parties and candidates that the data from the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be backed up and available in INEC cloud facilities, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
“Political parties can apply for Certified True Copies of the backend data of the BVAS. Also, the results on the BVAS will continue to be available on the IReV for interested parties to access.
“We thank Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as we continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times.”
Court orders INEC to upload results from polling units To IReV
On March 9th, 2023, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to directly and electronically upload the results of the upcoming governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Lagos State from the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
The court granted the order in a suit filed by the Labour Party and 41 other applicants. They sought an order of Mandamus to compel INEC to obey the Electoral Act and its guidelines for the conduct of the elections. The judge, Justice Peter Lifu, held that the court possessed the jurisdiction to entertain the suit because it was commenced in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The applicants had told the court that some presiding officers complained of wrong passwords as the reason for not being able to upload their Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) information, while some complained that the BVAS gave an “error” sign anytime they tried to upload. They argued that if the court does not grant the leave, the same vote manipulations would occur on March 11th, 2023, during the governorship and House of Assemblies election in Lagos State.
INEC through its counsel, Mrs Jacinta Kelechi-Ukaonu, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, stating that the plaintiffs had failed to disclose any cause of action to warrant the exercise of the court’s discretion in their favour. INEC had also argued that the suit was premature and speculative and that it would serve the interest of justice to strike out and/or dismiss the action. The commission stated that it is a law-abiding organization doing its best to fulfill all its obligations under the law.
However, Justice Lifu granted the applicants’ order of mandamus, directing and compelling the defendant and all its agents and their privies or any persons acting under their directions to comply with and enforce the provision of clause 37 and 38 of the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 for the conduct of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Lagos State on March 11th, 2023.
The court also granted an order directing and compelling the defendant to enforce the observance and compliance of Section 27(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 in the distribution of electoral materials during the conduct of the governorship and House of Assembly election in Lagos State on March 11th, 2023, by engaging the services of independent, competent, and reliable logistic companies who are non-partisans or known supporters of any political party for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel.
This ruling is significant in ensuring the transparency and credibility of the upcoming elections in Lagos State.
Court refuses Obi’s request to stop INEC from reconfiguring BVAS
The court of appeal has refused to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from reconfiguring the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) ahead of the governorship and state assembly elections.
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.
In an application, Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), 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 Abubakar of the PDP, on 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.
Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to the INEC, spoke on Tuesday while moving an application seeking to vary the orders of the court which gave permission to Obi and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to inspect all the sensitive materials used in the conduct of the presidential election held on February 25.
“Each polling unit has its own particular BVAS machine which we need to configure for the forthcoming elections,” he said.
“It will be very difficult for us, within the period, to reconfigure the 176, 000 BVAS for the election.
“We have already stated in our affidavit that no information in the BVAS will be lost as we will transfer all the data in the BVAS to our backend server. Our backend server preserves the data.
“So, granting this application will be a clog in the process and disrupt the conduct of the elections.”
Ruling on Obi and LP’s application, the court which also doubles as the presidential election petitions tribunal, said granting the sixth relief in the application would amount to “tying the hands of the respondent (INEC)”.
Obi won presidential poll, not Tinubu – Afenifere
On Wednesday, Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, announced that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the recently concluded presidential election was illegal.
The group revealed that Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), was actually the victor of the election.
They claimed that the Presidential and National Assembly elections failed to meet the requirements of the Election Act 2022, as amended, and that INEC flagrantly ignored the rules of elections as dictated by the relevant legislation governing the country’s electoral process.
The organization accused the electoral umpire of encouraging electoral brigandage at the polling units due to its willful disregard for the law.
The communiqué was released at the end of a Special General Meeting held at the Isanya-Ogbo residence of the party’s leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and was signed by Chief Sola Ebiseni, its Secretary-General.
Afenifere disassociated itself from any congratulatory message to any candidate that was illegally declared by INEC and supported Obi’s decision to challenge the contrary declaration by the commission.
Buhari, Sanwo-Olu commiserate with Lagos market fire victims
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with victims of the Akere Spare Parts Market fire incident in the Olodi-Apapa in the Ajegunle area of Lagos State.
Goods worth millions of naira were destroyed with the lifeless body of a 65-year-old security guard said to have been recovered near the scene of Wednesday’s incident.
Hours after the inferno, the President in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, said he “learned with deep sadness the death of a 65-year-old security guard, the loss of personal property and means of livelihood of some hardworking Nigerians at the Akere Spare Parts market”.
Buhari sympathised with the traders and their families who bear the brunt of the unfortunate incident and are at crossroads after the incident.
He is “equally concerned that a similar fire incident occurred at the popular Balogun market a few weeks ago, calling on relevant authorities to take precautions to stem the tide,” the statement added.
The President also commended the Lagos State Fire Service for responding to the incident, salvaging a nearby filling station with a 33,000 litres PMS tanker, amongst other adjoining buildings.
Similarly, the State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu sympathised with the traders who lost their goods.
In a terse statement, the governor said he is shocked by the incident. He also ordered a probe into the fire incident, which emergency workers put out.
Sanwo-Olu urged Lagosians to desist from attributing the unfortunate incident to any political party or its agents, saying those who are struggling to make political gains from the fire are being mischievous.
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