The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has disagreed with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, over his claim that snapping photograph of ballot papers by voters is illegal.
The INEC Chairman, at an interactive session of political stakeholders ahead of the governorship election in Osogbo recently, said any attempt to snap ballot papers would be in violation of Section 25(1,2,3,4) of the Electoral Act, and attracts a six month jail term if caught or N100,000 or both.
This came on the heels of the directive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to its supporters to copy the numbers of the ballot papers and take photographs after thumb printing in Saturday’s governorship election.
The APC, during its final rally on Tuesday encouraged voters to record the serial number of the ballot paper and use their phones to take a shot of the paper before leaving the poling unit. The party believe that the action would be a proactive measure to checking any attempt to rig the election.
Reacting to the issue, the Coalition through its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran argued that snapping of ballot paper by individual voter should not violate the secrecy of the election.
He said, “Everybody should be free to snap his own ballot paper. That shouldn’t constitute a crime. Taking photograph of your own ballot should not violate its secrecy. Basically, citizens should be allowed to take as many photographs as possible; they should be allowed to stay around to take as many photographs as they like and nobody should be intimidated except they are perpetrating evil.
If INEC doesn’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t bar people from taking photographs. That would increase transparency. The ballot paper is the constitutional property of every voter, so should be allowed to snap his ballot, if he so wishes. It only becomes an offence if you attempt to take the photograph of other people’s ballot papers.