Nigerian Court Says Voter-Verification Devices Data Can Be Reset

A Nigerian court ruled that electronic voter identification devices can be reconfigured ahead of an upcoming election of state governors and lawmakers, dismissing objections from opposition parties.
The two runners-up in Feb. 25 presidential elections won by the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu are contesting the outcome and last week secured Court of Appeal orders granting them access to tablets used at polling stations to accredit voters and transmit results. On Wednesday, judges sided with the Independent National Electoral Commission’s request to reset the devices, said INEC’s lawyer, Tanimu Inuwa.
The election agency successfully argued that it needs to reconfigure the so-called Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines to stage a March 11 election of governors and lawmakers in many of Nigeria’s 36 states. The Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party wanted “the court to stop us from conducting the election,” Inuwa said on Tuesday.
The PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, who finished second, and the LP’s Peter Obi, who came third, both say they were the rightful winners of the presidential election. On March 3, the parties obtained separate judgments permitting them to inspect the commission’s electoral materials including the BVAS machines to support their petitions.
INEC deployed the devices to verify registered voters’ identities and upload result sheets. The opposition parties and election observers have criticized the agency for its failure to transmit tallies from the almost 177,000 polling stations in real time as required by its own guidelines.
The PDP and LP boycotted the collation process before Tinubu was declared the winner on March 1, alleging “monumental disparities” between the official results and the data available to their party agents.
In its application to reconfigure the tablets, INEC was “seeking to wipe out that vital physical evidence,” the LP’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, told reporters on Tuesday. “If that is wiped out, then all the petitions will be in jeopardy.”
Inuwa denied that any data will be lost, saying it has been stored elsewhere.

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