Section 77, 78 and 79 of the 1999 Constitution: Elections, Registration of Voters and Election Tribunals Concerning the National Assembly


The 1999 Constitution

Section 77 (1)

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every Senatorial district or Federal constituency established in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Chapter shall return a member who shall be directly elected to the Senate or the House of Representatives in such manner as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly.

(This provision simply talks about the election of members into the legislature. It says that every Senatorial district or Federal Constituency which has been created in accordance with this Constitution shall present a member who will represent them in either the Senate or House of Representatives. Recall that we operate a bicameral legislature- a lower house and an upper house which are the House of Representative and the Senate respectively.)

Section 77 (2)

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.

(This provision is clear on the eligible age to register as a voter. It therefore follows that Nigerians below the age of eighteen (18) years are ineligible to register as a voter. ((The practicablity of this provision is an issue of concern. Over the years , we have seen cases of underaged Nigerians voting during elections)).)

Section 78

The registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of Independent National Electoral Commission.

(By virtue of Section 78 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the body responsible for conducting, directing and supervising elections and registering voters is INEC. )

Section 79 (a)(i),(ii) and (iii)

The National Assembly shall make provisions as respects:

a. persons who may apply to an election tribunal for determination of any question as to whether

i. any person has been validly elected as a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives,

ii. the term of office of any person has ceased, or

iii. the seat in the Senate or in the House of Representatives of a member of that House has become vacant;

(The National Assembly provisions to accommodate people who have issues with the way the elections were conducted and make application to an election tribunal to ask questions regarding

i.) whether or not a person was validly elected as a member into the Senate or House of Representatives

ii.) Whether or not the term of office of any person has ceased.

iii.) Whether or not the seat in the Senate or in the House of Representatives has become vacant.)

Section 79 (b)

circumstances and manner in which, and the conditions upon which, such application may be made; and

(The National Assembly shall also provide for the circumstances, manner in which and conditions upon which application to the election tribunal may be made by persons.)

Section 79 (c)

powers, practice and procedure of the election tribunal in relation to any such application.

(The National Assembly shall also make provisions for the powers, practice and procedure for such application to the election tribunal.)

(In summary – Section 79 empowers the National Assembly to make laws that regulate and define the powers of an election tribunal in determining whether a person has been elected as a member of the legislative arm according to law, vacancy in the legislature etc and who can make such applications to the election tribunal for the determination of the aforementioned questions.)

Section 75 and 76 of the 1999 Constitution: Scheduling Elections into the National Assembly

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