The Kano Governorship Election Tribunal has granted the All Progressives Congress (APC) permission to inspect the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used during the state’s governorship poll held on March 18, 2023.
The decision comes as a setback for the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), which had opposed the joint inspection request made by the APC.
In the ongoing legal battle surrounding the gubernatorial election, the APC had petitioned the tribunal, challenging the victory of Governor Abba Kabiru Yusuf. The party joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NNPP in seeking to invalidate the election’s outcome.
During the recent tribunal hearing, Nureini Jimoh, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) representing the petitioner, referred to Section 146(1)(2) of the Electoral Act and requested the court’s intervention to compel INEC to make the BVAS machines available for inspection. The petitioner’s counsel also urged the tribunal to allow a joint inspection of the electoral materials to ensure fairness and aid in presenting their case.
In response, counsels to the 1st respondent (INEC), K.C Wisdom, 2nd respondent (Abba Kabiru Yusuf), B.J Akomolafe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and 3rd respondent (NNPP), Abdulhameed Mohammad, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), asked the tribunal to dismiss the APC’s application.
However, counsels representing INEC, Abba Kabiru Yusuf, and the NNPP, opposed the APC’s application.
INEC’s counsel, K.C Wisdom, argued that the petitioner’s request sought to alter the main petition and noted that the petitioner had already been granted permission to inspect INEC materials. Similarly, B.J Akomolafe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) representing the second respondent, urged the tribunal to deny the APC access to inspect the BVAS machines, citing the expiration of the designated 14-day inspection period.
Ruling on the matter, the panel, chaired by Justice Oluyemi Akintan Osadebay, overruled the objections of the respondents.
It declared that the provisions of Section 146 of the Electoral Act afforded the petitioner the right to inspect all electoral materials.
Justice Osadebay maintained that it was only fair to allow the petitioner to access the BVAS machines in the interest of justice and to enable them to prove their case.
The justice emphasized that refusing to grant the application may jeopardize the interests of justice and equity.
The panel has reserved ruling on all the pre-consolidated applications for the final address. The hearing of the substantive matter on the petition will begin on June 19, 2023.