Polls: Court Okays Nigerians Abroad to Vote

No Comments » January 27th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Nigerians in the Diaspora



 

TRIBUNE

Nigerians abroad can vote – Court

Lanre Adewole, Abuja – 28.01.2009

A federal high court sitting in Abuja has held that Nigerians living abroad can vote in elections taking place in the country. It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to put machinery in motion to effect their participation in future elections.

Justice Adamu Bello, in a judgment, delivered on December 18, 2008, held that since Nigerians living abroad had convinced the court that they were entitled to vote and be voted for, it was the responsibility of INEC to put in place the “relevant machinery to assist the plaintiffs to vote from abroad.”

On May 25, 2007, Nigerians living abroad, led by Professor Bolaji Aluko, Mr. Hakeem Bello and Mr. Uzoma Onyemaechi, instituted a suit no: FHC/ABJ/370/2007, asking the court for orders to enable them participate in future elections.

While agreeing with INEC that there was no provision for external voting in the law, the judge held that “the time is ripe for Nigeria to give its citizens living abroad the opportunity to register and vote from abroad in any election in Nigeria without having to travel for that purpose.” 

 

THIS DAY

Polls: Court Okays Nigerians Abroad to Vote

By Davidson Iriekpen, 01.28.2009

 

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to put in place relevant machinery to assist Nigerians to register and vote from abroad in any election in Nigeria without having to travel for that purpose.

Delivering judgment in the suit filed by Nigerians leaving abroad led by Professor Bolaji Aluko, Hon. Hakeem Bello and Mr. Uzoma Onyemaechi, presiding judge, Justice Adamu Bello, directed INEC to approach the National Assembly by sponsoring a bill for the sake of Nigerians in diaspora.

Justice Bello, however, directed that in doing so, the electoral umpire could borrow a leaf from the countries that have already adopted the external voting.

He predicated his judgment on the fact that the plaintiff had convinced the court that they are entitled to vote and be voted for, it was the constitutional responsibility of INEC to put in place the “relevant machinery to assist the plaintiffs to vote from abroad.”

The plaintiffs had dragged INEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to court saying that it was high time Nigeria gave her citizens living abroad the opportunity to register and vote from abroad in any election in Nigeria without having to travel for that purpose.

They stated that they are entitled to participate in the government of Nigeria by voting for candidates of their choice pursuant to Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act) (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.The plaintiffs also averred that they are qualified for registration as voters by virtue of Section 13(1)(c) of the Electoral Act 2006 and Sections 77(2), 117(2), 132(5) and 178(5) of the 1999 Constitution.They therefore demanded an order from the court directing the defendants to set up registration centres and polling stations for the purposes of registering eligible voters and voting in all the High Commissions and Embassies abroad.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Femi Falana had submitted that by the combined effect of the Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Section 77 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and Section 13 of the Electoral Act 2006, Nigerians who are 18 years and above, living overseas are legally qualified to vote for candidates of their choice in any election conducted in Nigeria.

Falana apart from the several local and foreign authorities cited, exhibited a list of member states of the United Nations including 15 African countries that have recognized external voting by their nationals.

Challenging the suit, the Attorney-General and INEC through their counsel, Messrs Nelson Anih and Chris Erhabor, submitted that the Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions cannot be used for voting as they do not form part of the constituencies under which elections could be held in Nigeria.

They further contended that they have not prevented Nigerians living abroad from travelling home to participate in the electoral process.

 

 

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