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Steps to exercise and enjoy the right to political participation

1

What Steps Can I Take to Exercise and Enjoy My Right to Political Participation?

It should be noted that not all categories of persons are allowed to claim the right to political participation. This part however highlights certain steps a person is required to take before exercising and enjoying political rights in Nigeria’s electoral process.

As a voter in elections:

  • You must be a citizen of Nigeria as recognized by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • You must have attained the minimum age limits (i.e., 18 years).
  • You must have approached and presented yourself to the registration officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission for registration and collection of voter card.
  • You must be in attendance on the Election Day and follow the guidelines laid down by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

To know more about this visit HERE.

As a candidate contesting for any elective public office:

  • You must be a citizen of Nigeria as recognized by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, the office of the President and Governor of a state require that only a citizen of Nigeria by birth can contest for the posts.
  • You must have met the age requirements as provided by law at the time of contesting for elective office.

Such as: the age of 35 years for the office of President; 35 for the office of Governor; 35 for Senate, 25 years for House of Representative and 25 for members of House of Assembly of each state in Nigeria representatively. For the Local Council elections, the respective state Electoral Laws defines the age.

  • You must be a member of any political party of your choice registered by Independent National Electoral Commission.
  • You must participate in the primary elections conducted by the political party you belong to.
  • The political party must sponsor you and thereafter submit your names as her only candidate for a particular office to the Independent National Electoral Commission at least 60 days before Election Day.
2

Where and How Can I Get A Voter’s Card?

Every voter will be asked to present a voter’s card before exercising his/her voting right. To be an eligible voter at election, these are the things to do:

  • You are expected to visit any registration centres of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) located in your constituency/area.

Note: it is only Independent National Electoral Commission that is allowed to issue a valid voter card to eligible voters.

  • Also, the registration officers would collect necessary information from you during the registration session. These include: Taking of your picture, contact details (Name, address, age, state of registration, taking of your thumbprint, phone number, state of origin etc.).

In this regard, the Commission will ensure all the information you provided are safe and make an announcement of a date for the collection of voters’ cards before the Election Day.

To know more about this, visit HERE.

3

What Can I Do If My Voter’s Card Is Denied After A Successful Registration?

At this stage where the Commission had successfully registered you as a voter in an election, but a voters’ card is not given to you, then you will not be allowed to participate in the election. However, these are steps you would have to take in order to collect the voters’ card.

  • First, you are required to make a complaint directed to a Revision Officer or any other officer who is meant to look into your claim as to denial of the voters’ card. Note: the complaint mentioned here is an application stating the real situation as it is.
  • Secondly, if you are not pleased with the decision reached by the Revision Officer or the other officer in charge, you have Seven days to approach the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of the State you reside. Noting that the decision of the Resident Electoral Commissioner cannot be challenged any longer.[3]
4

What Steps Do I Take If I Misplace My Voter’s Card?

To recollect a missing voters’ card, you must follow the steps below in order to participate at election:

  • You would have to make an application for another voters’ card. This has to be done no later than 60 days before Election Day.
  • In the application, you must state the situations how the misplaced voters’ card got missing.
  • The application would be directed to the Electoral Officer or any other officer who is in charge for the purpose of issuing another valid voter’s card.
  • After you have followed all steps stated above, the Officer in charge will give a specific date for the collection of new valid voters’ card.

Note: On the voters’ card that will be given to you, DUPLICATE will be written on it for easy identification.

5

Can I Have More Than One Voter’s Card?

No. It is worthy of note that every person who intends to participate in the process of an election is permitted to have only one valid voters’ card. However, where it is established that a voter possesses more than one valid voter’s card, this will be seen as an offence and such voter will either pay a fine or will be imprisoned if convicted by the court.

6

What Steps Do I Have to Take As a voter if I Moved to Another Residence Different from Where I Registered?

To qualify under this category, you must have been registered as a voter and change a location different from where you originally registered.

First, you would have to make an application informing the INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner of the State you reside on the change of location. This must be done at least 60 days before the Election Day.

Secondly, the Commissioner in charge will look into the application and ensure your participation at election. To achieve this, necessary information such as, a copy of your voter’s card and other relevant evidence that indicate the change of location would be needed.

Thirdly, an Electoral officer having received instruction from the INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner of the State will then ensure your voters’ card is transferred to the constituency of your choice and issue a new voters’ card to you.

Note: INEC stands for Independent National Electoral Commission.

To know more about this, visit HERE.

7

How Do I Form A Political Party?

This part highlights certain requirements that a political association must fulfil before it is registered as a political party by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a way that can canvass votes for candidates and sponsor candidates at elections. In Nigeria, it is only the Commission that has the power to register political parties where the association complies with the procedures for registration. Here are the procedures that must be followed:

  • That the names and addresses of its national officers are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
  • That the membership of the association is not in any form of discrimination. i.e., the membership must be open to every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of his place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion, or ethnic grouping.
  • That the association has its constitution registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
  • That the name of the association, its symbol or logo does not contain any ethnic or religious connotation or give the appearance that the activities of the association are confined to a part only of the geographical area of Nigeria.
  • That the association has it headquarter located in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

After you have met all that are stated above, here is how to go about the registration: Note importantly that “Commission” as mentioned below means the Independent National Electoral Commission.

  1. You are expected to make an application for registration as a political party directed to the Commission.
  2. In the application, you are to provide the followings: Name of the party you intend to form, its symbol, list of Elected Officers, and other necessary information.
  3. You must ensure to submit all the relevant documents which are contained in the Registration form to the Commission. Note: Relevant documents include the political association draft constitution, manifestoes and draft code and conducts, receipt of payment of certain amount of money required and other things that will be necessary as requested by the Commission.
  4. And as such, you must ensure this application is made at least 6 months to the general election.
  5. If the application is successful, the Commission will register the political association as a political party and issue a Certificate of Registration to you.
  6. In a situation where the application for registration fails, that is, there are other requirements you are yet to fulfil in the Registration form given to you. Note: The Commission is required to send a notification on the failure of the Registration to you.
  • You have 30 days to do the necessary things that will make the political association be registered.

 

8

What Can I Do Where an Application for Registration of a Political Party Is Denied by The Commission?

It is clear that every citizen of Nigeria has the constitutional right to form a political party. Where such an application for registration of a political party is denied, the affected citizen(s) may take certain steps to seek legal redress:

  • You are expected to approach a competent court of law to reclaim the right to participate in political affairs. This includes formation of a political party. To achieve this, you have 30 days to challenge the decision of the denial of registration.
9

What Can I Do If I Am Denied Membership to A Political Party?

It should be noted that no political party can be registered successfully by the Commission if its membership is not free to all adult citizens of Nigeria. That is, no citizen of Nigeria who intends to be part of the party and have followed the guidelines laid down by the party will be denied membership. However, when this happens, here are what to do:

  • You are expected to inform the Commission about the situation by writing a letter of notification.
  • In the letter, you would have to include the following: (name, age, address, name of the party, state of origin, etc.)

Note: If the Commission makes a decision that is not pleased with you, you have right to approach a competent court of law.

  • It is advisable that you keep the letter of rejection given to you safely or any other relevant evidence that will be useful in making your claim in court.
10

Will I be Allowed to Exercise My Right to Vote Despite Suffering from Any Form of Disability?

Yes. It is clear that no one can be prevented from enjoying his/her voting right on the basis of physical disability. There are procedures in place to facilitate the exercise of this right. They are:

  • A person of your choice would have to follow you to the polling unit and inform the Presiding officer the nature of your disability.
  • Then, the Presiding officer or any other Electoral officers who are in charge at present would instruct the person to assist and ensure you exercise your voting right.
  • Assistive aids like the braille ballot guide and magnifying glasses are also provided for voters who are visually impaired or with low vision, respectively.
  • Other special communication materials are provided to aid a voter with disability at the polling units.

Above all, the Commission is required to make adequate provisions for every category of persons to participate at election.

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