INEC blocking access to BVAS machine, says Imo LP

The Imo State Chapter of the Labour Party on Saturday raised the alarm that the Independent National Electoral Commission in the state was disobeying a court order for it to inspect the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System used in the conduct of the November 11 governorship election.

The LP chairman in the state, Callistus Ihejiagwa, who briefed journalists in Owerri, the state capital, said the Election Petition Tribunal in Owerri had on November 26 ordered INEC to allow his party access to the BVAS machine used for the conduct of the election.

He said contrary to the court order which empowered the LP to carry out a forensic inspection of the BVAS machine, the electoral umpire had frustrated the process.

Ihejiagwa said the forensic inspection of the election materials including the BVAS is contained in the order of the tribunal.

According to him, INEC had on Wednesday, denied availability of the BVAS for inspection, insisting that only the commission’s headquarters reserved the right to grant access to the BVAS for inspection.

He said that the commission, however, made available only 65 out of over 5,000 BVAS machines for inspection but denied the LP’s team of forensic experts access to the machines.

He wondered why INEC would “deliberately frustrate the process of litigation “ in an election where it was only an umpire.

He said, “Contrary to orders of court for forensic analysis of BVAS machines, an INEC official is reading out figures of accreditation from the machines without allowing us access to Certified True Copies of the card copies for our due diligence.

“We have less than 24 hours to examine the BVAS machines, assemble and present our findings to the election petition tribunal but here we are still awaiting access to the machines.

“The tribunal ordered for forensic inspection of the BVAS so the BVAS is specifically contained in the Tribunal order.”

Counsel for the LP governorship candidate, Athan Achonu, emphasised that the tribunal’s order for forensic examination of the BVAS machines would help ensure that the machines have not been tampered with before and after the election.

He decried INEC’s disobedience to the order while restating the party’s confidence in the judiciary for the dispensation of justice.

Our correspondent recalls that INEC’s Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Mrs Emmanuella Ben-Opara had, on Tuesday, confirmed that the materials requested for inspection were all ready and waiting to be inspected.


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