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Published On: Fri, Dec 18th, 2020

Daispora Voting Bill has passed second reading in the House of Representatives

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By Christiana Ekpa

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the Diaspora voting bill through second reading, This indicate that Nigerians abroad may soon be able to participate in elections from wherever in the world.
he bill, sponsored by the Chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Rep. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe and 15 other lawmakers is aimed at altering the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Cap. 23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The bill seeks to amend section 77 Subsection (2) of the Principal Act to now read “ Every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of eighteen years residing within or outside Nigeria at the time of registration of voters for purposes of election to a Legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.”
Also, a new Subsection 3 will also be added thus -”(3) To be eligible to vote in accordance with Subsection 2 above, the citizen of Nigeria must fulfill the following conditions:
i) be at least 18 years old; ii) hold a valid Nigerian International Passport;
(ii) must have lived in Nigeria for a period of at least five (5) years from a minimum age of ten (10) years old; and
Also, the person must be legally resident in the Country of residence for at least 12 months.
Similarly, Section 117 Subsection (2) of the Principal Act is amended to read
“ Every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of eighteen years residing within or outside Nigeria at the time of registration of voters for purposes of election to a Legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.”
A new Subsection 3 will also be added to allow citizens be eligible to vote in accordance with Subsection 2 above, but they must fulfill the following conditions be at least 18 years old and hold a valid Nigerian International Passport.
They must have also lived in Nigeria for a period of at least five (5) years from a minimum age of ten (10) years old; and be legally resident in the Country of residence for at least 12 months.”
The Bill, cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 when passed into law will fulfill one of Speaker Gbakabiamila’s promises that the 9th National Assembly is committed to the issue of Diaspora voting.
Gbajabiamila had assured that the 9th House is committed to the issue of Diaspora voting.
Gbajabiamila while speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop organised by the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Council in Abuja recently said millions of Nigerians who strive to make a living outside the country “have as much a stake in the present and future of Nigeria as those of us who live here.”
He noted that after years of struggle on the issue of Diaspora voting, “there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel” under the current National Assembly.
He said there are constitutional hurdles that should be taken into consideration when coming up with a draft law for Nigerians living in other countries to vote.

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