Can the right to political participation be limited?


Are there limitations to this right?

Political rights are not absolute rights in nature. In other words, these rights do have some limitations, which include:

  1. Limiting these rights in the interest of security, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health.
  2. Where it appears to protect the rights of others from being breached in order not to result to an abuse of rights.
  3. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the lawful power to deregister any political party where it is established that the party has not satisfied the requirements totally laid down by law.

For examples:

  1.  If the political party was found to have breached any of the requirements for registration and
  2. If after the conclusion of elections, the political party failed to win at least 25% of votes cast in various elections such as: one State of the Federation in a presidential election; one Local Government of the State in a Governorship election; one ward in the Chairmanship; one seat in the Nation in the National or State House of Assembly election; or one seat in the Councillorship election.

Other Special limitations are as follows:

In relation to a voter participating in elections:

  • A non-citizen of Nigeria is not allowed to participate as a voter in Nigeria.
  • A citizen of Nigeria under the age of 18 years as required by law would not be allowed to participate in an election.
  • A citizen of Nigeria who is not registered as a voter would not be allowed to exercise his right to vote during an election.

In relation to a candidate contesting for public office in an election:

  • A citizen of Nigeria who is not a member of any political party registered in Nigeria by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would not be allowed to stand as a candidate in an election.
  • A citizen of Nigeria who is a member of any political party registered in Nigeria but does not participate in the primary’s elections organized by the party he belongs to would be disqualified.

For example, in All Progressive Congress (APC) & ORS. V Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa & ORS Case Suit No. 377/2019, the court held that in a situation where a registered political party fails to conduct primaries elections as required by law, then the political party cannot participate in the general elections.

  • A citizen of Nigeria who does not meet the age requirements as recognized by law would be disqualified.
  • If there is evidence that the person belongs to any secret society and such is established accordingly. Such person would be disqualified based on the basis.
  • A citizen of Nigeria who has been sentenced to jail or prison (Now Correctional centres) for any offence by any competent court in Nigeria within 10 years before the conduct of the elections.

A citizen of Nigeria who is said tonot have mental capacity and such is confirmed with a medical report would not be allowed to stand as a candidate in an election.

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