The Independent National Electoral Commission has postponed the governorship and state assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday.
The elections will now hold on March 18, 2023, according to a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye on Wednesday.
The decision was reached after the meeting with the INEC chairman and his team.
The postponement is due to the commission’s inability to earnestly commence reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines utilised during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections to enable their use in the state elections.
Earlier, the Presidential Election Petition Court, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, had given INEC permission to reconfigure the BVAS it used for the presidential election.
The statement read in part, “Following today’s ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System used for the presidential election held on 25th February 2023, the Commission met to assess its impact on the Commission’s preparations for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, 11th March 2023.
“Nigerians would recall that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex- parte order for some political parties to inspect materials used for the Presidential election, including the forensic inspection of over 176,000 BVAS used in the election which are located in INEC LGA offices across the country.
“The Commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Governorship and State Assembly elections and that the lack of a clearly defined timeframe for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the outstanding elections.
“For instance, the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election. Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“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 18th March 2023.
“By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16th March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election.”