Nigeria News

Diaspora Voting Not Feasible in 2015, Says INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said the much anticipated Diaspora voting would not feasible until the Electoral Act is amended. The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said this at a three-day national stakeholders’ forum on electoral reform in Abuja. Jega, represented by INEC Commissioner, Election Party Monitoring, Hajiya Amina Zakari, said INEC might not be ready to conduct Diaspora voting until the Electoral Act was passed into law. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he said since the people in the Diaspora were citizens of Nigeria, it was necessary to include them in the choice of electing their representatives at all levels of governance. At the moment, only citizens residing in Nigeria at the time of registration of voters can vote at any election. Section 77 (2) of the Electoral Act says: “Every citizen of Nigeria who has attained the age of 18 at the time of the registration of voters for the purposes of election to a legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.” The INEC boss, however, said it was proposing an amendment to the Act, to enable Nigerians in the Diaspora who are 18 years as of the time of registration to vote. Jega said denying the Diaspora the right to vote would be an infringement on their right, adding that the proposed amendment would enable them to exercise their fundamental right. The electoral umpire, however, expressed concern over the conduct of party primaries, saying most political parties flouted the electoral law while conducting their primaries. The INEC boss said the Electoral Act did not give the commission enough power to deal with such cases. Jega stated that INEC had to resort to self help on such cases by writing to the affected party to correct the anomaly. He said such impunity where candidate who did not stand for primary was substituted for those who did, would no longer be tolerated, if the proposed Electoral Act was approved.

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