‘Quest for inclusion incomplete’ – INEC chairman makes case for diaspora voting

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Mahmood Yakubu, chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says Nigeria’s quest for inclusive election is not complete until there are provisions for diaspora voting.

 

Speaking on Tuesday at Chatham House in the United Kingdom, Yakubu said there is a need to look into the necessary framework to ensure that persons in the diaspora can participate in Nigeria’s elections.

 

“Voting by millions of Nigerians living outside the country remains a recurrent issue for the commission. Nigeria is said to have one of the largest diaspora communities in the world,” he said.

 

“Our quest for a fully inclusive electoral process in Nigeria will not be complete as long as these Nigerians are unable to vote.

 

“However, the commission only acts in accordance with the electoral legal framework, which remains the main reason why we cannot implement diaspora voting for now.

 

“Both the 1999 constitution and the 2022 Electoral Act provide that voters can only be registered and vote within the country. For instance, section 77(2) of the constitution provides that ‘every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of eighteen years residing in Nigeria at the time of the registration of voters for purposes of election to a legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election’.

 

“Sections 132(5) and 178(5) tie the eligibility to register and vote in executive elections (presidential and governorship) to the requirement of residency as in the case of legislative houses.

 “The commission hopes that these legal obstacles will be cleared at some point to enable Nigerians in the diaspora to vote in elections.”

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