Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate in the most recent presidential election, has withdrawn his request to the court for permission to watch the Independent National Electoral Commission reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines.
The reorganization of the BVAS used to conduct the presidential election on February 25 had been approved by the Court of Appeal in Abuja on March 8 and was carried out.
After concluding that the BVAS data on the presidential elections can be safely stored in an accredited backend server, the appellate court led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh gave INEC the go-ahead to reconfigure the BVAS machines for use in the rescheduled governorship and state House of Assembly elections on March 18.
Atiku and Peter Obi, the presidential candidate for the Labour Party (LP), were allowed to inspect election materials, including the BVAS machines used to conduct the presidential election, thanks to an earlier order from the court that allowed this. The electoral umpire had petitioned the court to modify this earlier order.
They had based their request on the fact that the governorship and state House of Assembly elections would not take place as originally planned unless the court’s order was changed to allow for the reconfiguration of the BVAS machines used for the presidential polls.
The state House of Assembly and governor elections were moved from March 11 to March 18 as a result of the rearranging of the BVAS machines, INEC announced shortly after the permission was granted.
In the meantime, Atiku and the PDP asked the appellate court for permission to watch the reconfiguration of the BVAS machines by INEC officials in a motion on notice that was filed on March 13 and designated CA/PEC/13m/2023.
In a separate motion exparte, he had requested permission to serve court documents on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the election’s victor, using an alternative method, such as by serving the documents to staff members or posting them on the APC’s property.
The appellate court’s attention was drawn to a notice of discontinuance filed in connection with the two cases by Ifeanyi Iboko, a lawyer who represented Atiku and the PDP, when the matter was called on Wednesday.
Iboko clarified that the two motions had become superfluous as a result of recent events, which was the basis for the discontinuation.
The appeals court subsequently dismissed the two motions after the respondents withdrew and offered no opposition.
At the conclusion of the collation of the results from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu declared Tinubu the winner of the presidential election on March 1. Tinubu received the highest number of votes cast in the election.
Atiku finished second with almost seven million votes, and Obi took third place with just over six million. Tinubu won with more than eight million votes.
Likewise, Obi won 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory, while Tinubu and Atiku each took home 12 states.
Both Atiku and Obi vowed to air their grievances at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the court tasked with hearing and ruling on cases pertaining to the conduct of the presidential election, after Tinubu’s election was declared the winner.
Atiku and Obi, who have not yet submitted their respective petitions, asked the court in separate motions exparte for a ruling allowing them to view the election-related materials used on February 25.
Atiku and Obi were given permission to inspect “all the electoral materials used in the conduct of the election for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on February 25, 2023” by Justice Ikyegh on March 3 in his ruling on the exparte.
Additionally, the court gave them permission to scan and/or copy electronic copies of the presidential election ballots and voter registration records.
Atiku and Obi are also given permission by the order to “carry out digital forensic inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the February 25” presidential election.
However, INEC disagreed with the decision and asked the appellate court to change the ruling on the grounds that granting Atiku and Obi access to its database would reveal voters’ names and the ballots they cast in the presidential election.
The governorship and state House of Assembly elections scheduled for March 11 may be impacted, so INEC argued in its request to the court to modify the order.