Democracy has been defined by Abraham Lincoln as:
‘A government of the people, for the people and by the people.’
Sadly, our attempt at Democracy can be seen as a watered down version. The one time in our history the freest and fairest election was said to have been conducted in Nigeria, was believed to be during the election of M. K. O. Abiola and he died, suspected to have been killed, while in prison.
Few months ago, we all read, watched, heard the news that our president, M. Buhari, had declared the 12th of June, to be recognized as the day Nigerians all over the world, celebrate our independence, instead of the day the actual document was signed, to serve as a reminder of true democracy for us all.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to point out that the mere changing of the date of independence does not in itself, guarantee in any way, that we would experience true democracy in the truest sense of the word. The mantle falls on us all, to act out as one Nigeria, to work towards true democracy and not just depend solely on the government. We, the people are the government. We the people, are the law. We the people, are the democracy we seek. If it has been achieved before, it can be achieved again. In order to do this, the first step towards that is to know and understand the laws put in place to ensure free and fair election.
ELECTION (REGISTRATION, ETC. OF VOTERS) ACT CAP 35, 1991
THE ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL, 2018
These two will be discussed.
Section 1 subsection 7 – 10, Section 2, Section 8, Section 13 of the ELECTION (REGISTRATION, ETC. OF VOTERS) ACT Empowers every constituency under INEC;
- To display the preliminary list of registered voters in that constituency.
- To revise the list of registered voters in each constituency and to invite people whose names and addresses are not displayed in the list to ensure it is.
- To give anyone whose name has been omitted or incorrectly stated, to lay a formal complaint within 12 days of the display.
- Inspection of the Register of Voters is free and will be made public for viewing during normal office hours.
- Section 18 of the same Act, lists out acts that would constitute an offense;
- Any person who gives his/her voters cards to a person who is not a Registration Officer or is not an officer but receives the voters card of another or
- Without lawful excuse, is in possession of more than one voters card will be liable to an imprisonment term of 2 years or to a fine of 5,000 Naira or both.
Also, under the same section, a Registration Officer who;
Registers any person by proxy
- Issues more than one registration card
- Issues registration card to a political party or
- Includes a person’s name more than once in a particular unit
Is guilty of an offense and liable to an imprisonment term of 5 years or a fine of 10,000 or both.
Furthermore, the INEC has amended the ELECTORAL ACT. The ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL, 2018 has made some changes to the ELECTORAL ACT and they include but are not limited to;
- Provision for maintaining a Register of Voters and Voters Register in an electronic form in the INEC database.
- Issuance of Replacement Permanent Voters Card where the official is satisfied of the loss, destruction, defacement or damage of the voters card.
- Disqualification of a Candidate/ Political Party on the determination that any of the information contained in his/her affidavit is false.
- Presiding officer must open the empty ballot box and show same to persons lawfully present at the polling unit and then seal the boxes to prevent them from being opened by unauthorized persons at the opening of the poll and before accreditation and voting.
- A person must present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding officer for accreditation at the polling unit where his name is registered.
Any person or political party is allowed to obtain a certified true copy of an election result that is stored in the National Electronic Register in a State, Local Government, Area Council, Ward our Polling Unit.
Armed with these, let us all come out en masse to exercise our various rights concerning this forthcoming election, with the mindset of a people, ready and willing to work towards a better Nigeria for ourselves and our future.
To read a side by side comparison between the ELECTORAL ACT and the ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL, 2018 visit http://placng.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/FACTSHEET-ON-THE-ELECTORAL-ACT-AMENDMENT-BILL-2018-AS-PASSED-BY-THE-NATIONAL-ASSEMBLY.pdf
The poll for next Saturday’s post will be out on Sunday and will last till Wednesday. Thank you for participating ☺️
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