It is another election season in Edo and Ondo state. The elections, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC will hold on the 19th of September, 2020 and 10th of October, 2020 in Edo and Ondo states, respectively. As the election days draw near, it is imperative for citizens to become familiar with basic principles of election for better coordination of themselves on election days and to avoid getting into unnecessary trouble.
Section 12(1) of the 2010 Electoral Act states that a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person:
- is a citizen of Nigeria,
- has attained the age of 18 years,
- is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the Local Government Area Councilor Ward covered by the registration centre,
- presents himself to the registration officers of the commission for registration as a voter and
- is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or regulation in Nigeria.
Accreditation and voting commence at 8:00 am and close by 2:00 pm, provided that all voters present on the queue by 2:00 pm have been allowed to vote. This means voters are expected to be at polling units before 2:00 pm. It, therefore, amounts to no harm for voters to arrive at their various voting wards early to vote. The notorious idea of ‘African time’ hardly holds during elections except in cases where INEC experiences setbacks in areas of logistics or where there are technical issues such as the malfunctioning of Smart Card Reader(SCR).
Where there are issues with voters’ fingerprint, individual voters are advised to report to election Presiding Officers for resolution. Voters are not allowed and must not attempt to register in more than one registration centre or register more than once in the same registration centre as this amounts to an act of “election malpractice” punishable under the Electoral law with a fine of #100,000 or a year’s imprisonment or both.
Another offence recognised under Section 118(2) of the electoral law is interference with ballot paper or box. Individuals found liable risk a maximum 2-year imprisonment term.
As the world battles the novel coronavirus pandemic, voters are advised to comply with safety measures and guidelines laid down by the NDDC. These include maintaining physical distancing at polling booths, wearing face masks, regular use of hand sanitizers, and washing of hands with soap under running water. Citizens of these states are also advised to avoid violence Nigeria works towards ensuring that elections are free and fair at all times and at all levels.
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