The Labour Party (LP) has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying the electoral body deliberately came up with its idea of reconfiguring the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines after Peter Obi, its presidential candidate, sought to examine the election materials.
The Party faulted the commission’s claim of backing up the data retrieved from the BVAS without the presence of independent witnesses and representatives of political parties.
However, the reaction is coming barely 24 hours after INEC rescheduled the planned governorship and states House of Assembly elections earlier slated for March 11 in order to reconfigure the BVAS machines.
INEC’s move was made possible after the Presidential Election Petition Court sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja granted the umpire’s request to reconfigure the BVAS that were used for the presidential poll.
The court also had, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, dismissed objection by the LP and held that preventing the electoral umpire from reconfiguring the BVAS would adversely affect the forthcoming governorship and state Assembly elections.
But Yinusa Tanko, the chief spokesman for the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, reiterated that it was wrong for INEC to claim that it had backed up the data from the BVAS without any witness.
The spokesperson further accused the Commission of constantly changing its rule of engagement to cover up some of the anomalies they earlier observed.
He said, “Are we privy or invited to see what was being backed up? If there is going to be transparency, what INEC needs to do is to invite everybody with their technological 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, know the commission can 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.”
Maintaining that they had lost confidence in the capacity of the commission to hold a free and fair election, Tanko noted that Obi was consulting with his lawyers to determine whether or not to appeal the court ruling on BVAS reconfiguration.
He further warned the electoral body to endeavour to raise its standard and seek to do the right thing to avoid incurring the wrath of the masses.