Nigeria’s Election Commission postponed gubernatorial elections on Wednesday because it needed more time to reconfigure the electronic machines used in last month’s disputed presidential election.
Elections will now be held on March 18 instead of Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.
The delay allows the data in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used in the February 25 elections to be backed up and backed up 24 hours before the new election date and they are reconfigured.
“The decision was not taken lightly, but it is necessary to ensure that there is sufficient time to back up the data stored on the more than 178,000 BVAS machines from the presidential election and the national February 25, 2023 assembly elections and then reconfigure them for the governorship and state assembly elections,” the INEC said.
INEC’s statement came after a Nigerian judge turned down a request from an opposition candidate to prevent the Electoral Commission from reconfiguring the devices.
Labor Party candidate Peter Obi, who lost the last presidential race to Bola Tinubu, claimed evidence of foul play in the election would be erased in the event of a reconfiguration.
The INEC said the ruling came too late to back up data and configure the devices in time for Saturday’s vote.
People’s Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubaker called the election result “a rape of democracy” and vowed to challenge it in court with Obi.
Reacting to the ruling, Labor Party spokesman Julius Abure said it cast serious doubt on INEC’s “truthfulness, patriotism and integrity”, which he said prevented lawyers from carrying out a forensic examination of election materials.
“Nigerians trusted INEC…and they have disappointed Nigerians in this 2023 general election.”
He accused INEC of “not working for Nigerians” and urged them to “rethink the path” it has chosen.
Shoshana Kedem is a senior journalist and digital editor at African Business.