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INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

INEC, NASS make case for Diaspora voting

 INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Yakubu Mahmood, has urged the National Assembly to expedite action by amending sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) to make way for Nigerians living outside the country to participate in the electoral process and vote.

He said: “INEC believes that Nigerians living outside the country should have the right to vote for a variety of reasons: they are citizens of Nigeria interested in the affairs of their own country; they make considerable contribution to the economy through huge financial inflow to the country; there is a sizable amount of Nigerian citizens living outside the country; and Diaspora voting is consistent with global best practices “.

The INEC Chairman made the call Wednesday when members of the Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations, led by its Chairperson, Dr. Rose Oko, visited the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

Professor Yakubu noted that: “Allowing Nigerians living abroad to vote will allow Nigerians in Diaspora to register and vote in their country of residence”. He however pointed out that: “for this to happen, several sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act have to be amended to provide for the legal framework to allow for registration and voting by citizens living in the Diaspora”.

He disclosed that the Commission had identified areas of the Constitution and the Electoral Act which needed amendment and was willing to discuss it with the Committee. He assured that: “INEC is committed to providing Nigerians living outside the country the opportunity to have a say in who becomes our leaders at various levels.

“I hope that arising from our interactions today, the legal and constitutional obstacles to voting by Nigerians in Diaspora will soon be removed so that Nigerians, irrespective of where they live around the world would have the opportunity to vote in future elections, but the first step towards actualizing that possibility rests entirely on the National Assembly because you are the only people who have the powers to amend our constitution and laws,” he said.

Earlier, Senator Oko had told the leadership of INEC that members of the Committee were in the Commission in respect of the quest for Nigerians in Diaspora to be part of the electoral process and to exercise their franchise.

She advised the Commission to look into the possibility of including Nigerians in Disapora to vote, and assured that the Committee would do everything possible to facilitate the amendment of the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to accommodate people living outside the country in the electoral process.

“We in the Senate Committee do believe that we would lend our voice very strongly to the call that Nigerians in Diaspora should be given an opportunity to exercise their franchise to vote in the countries where they are domiciled for a number of reasons,” she said.

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