Know Your Rights Series (Part 2)

Know Your Rights Series (Part 2)

Know Your Rights Series
(Part 2) You Have Voting Rights.
By Fejiro Ogheneare

This article is a slight departure from the scope of part 1 but it is nevertheless under the same subject matter. The first Right I ever knew I had as a Nigerian Citizen was the Right to Vote and be voted for. I learnt this in my junior secondary school when we treated the topic of Election under Civic Education. Strangely this Right is not listed in Chapter IV of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and like was stated in the previous article, Chapter IV provides for the fundamental rights of a citizen of Nigeria. If this is the case do I truly have the right to vote and be voted for? And if so, how do I exercise those rights? Follow me on this legal exploration and find out for yourself.
The right to vote or voting rights are not explicitly mentioned in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which is a grave error on the part of the Constitution Drafting Committee. Unlike its American counterpart, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution does not have a specific provision that guarantees the right to vote. The fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that, ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude’.
Despite all that has been said, the right to vote is by necessary implication embedded into the 1999 Constitution. How? The preceding Constitution, the 1979 Constitution explicitly guaranteed voting rights for every citizen of Nigeria who resided in Nigeria at the time of voter registration. It made this guarantee under Chapter V, Part 1, Section D of The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979. And because the 1999 Constitution is only an improvement on the former, provisions of the former Constitution that were not repealed or modified in the 1999 Constitution still have binding force. Also, the Electoral Act 2022 which is a Federal Statute guarantees the voting rights of all eligible citizens of a country.
So, yes you have voting rights as a citizen of Nigeria but there are requirements to be met before this voting right can be lawfully exercised. These requirements are technically called ‘condition precedents’ i.e the conditions that come before a thing. These requirements as listed on the official INEC website are;
You must be a citizen of Nigeria
You must have attained the age of eighteen (18) years
You must either work in, reside at, or originate from the community where you choose to register as a voter. This implies that you must register first as a voter with the appropriate Authority — INEC.
You must be free from any incapacity to vote under any law in Nigeria. Examples of such incapacity include insanity, incarceration, etc.

Having fulfilled all these requirements, you’re well positioned to make maximum use of your voting rights. I must add that the right to be voted for has its peculiar requirements, depending on the political position the individual aspirant is vying for. Bear in mind also that this Right to vote was acquired by the sacrifices of men and women, who fought tirelessly for universal adult suffrage in Nigeria. To sell it for a cup of Rice or a sachet of tomato is to trample on the great sacrifices that were paid to obtain it. Don’t sell your vote!

Know Your Rights Series
(Part 2)Right 

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