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Author Name: Mobolaji E. Aluko
Number of articles: 33
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Nigerian Federal Court Orders INEC to Allow Nigerians Abroad to Vote
Author: Mobolaji E. Aluko | January 28, 2009

On May 25, 2007, Nigerians living abroad led by Hon. Hakeem Bello, Professor Bolaji Aluko, Dr. Baba Adam, Mr Uzoma Onyemaechi, Prof. Isa Odidi and fifteen others (see attached plaintiffs' list) approached the Federal High court sitting in Abuja, in a class-action suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/370/2007 wherein they sought the following reliefs: A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to participate in the government of Nigeria by voting for candidates of their choice pursuant to Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act) (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990. A declaration that the plaintiffs are qualified for registration as voters by virtue of Section 13(1)(c) of the Electoral Act 2006 and Sections 77(2), 117(2), 132(5) and 178(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. An order directing the defendants to set up registration centers and polling stations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in all High Commissions And Embassies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The plaintiffs' counsel, Mr Femi Falana submitted that by the combined effect of the Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, Section 77 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and Section 13 of the Electoral act 2006, Nigerians who are 18 years and above, living overseas are legally qualified to vote for candidates of their choice in any election conducted in Nigeria. Apart from the several local and foreign authorities cited by Mr Falana, he exhibited a list of member states of the United Nations including 15 African countries that have recognized external voting by their nationals. In their vehement opposition to the suit, the Attorney-General and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through their counsels, Messrs Nelson Anih and Chris Erhabor, submitted that the Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions cannot be used for voting as they do not form part of the constituencies under which elections could be held in Nigeria. They further contended that they have not prevented Nigerians living abroad from traveling home to participate in the electoral process. In his considered judgment, delivered on 18th December 2008, Justice Adamu Bello held that since Nigerians living abroad have convinced the court that they are entitled to vote and be voted for, it is the constitutional responsibility of INEC to put in place the "relevant machinery to assist the plaintiffs to vote from abroad." While agreeing with INEC that there is no provision for external voting in the law, the Judge stated that "the time is ripe for Nigeria to give its citizens living abroad the opportunity to register and vote from abroad in any election in Nigeria without having to travel for that purpose." Consequently, the Court directed INEC to "approach the National Assembly by sponsoring a bill for the sake of Nigerians in Diaspora and in doing so, it can borrow a leaf from the countries that have already adopted the external voting." In his reaction to the judgment, Mr Femi Falana commended Justice Bello for his incisive and progressive decision which has challenged the Nigerian government to join the comity of democratic nations by recognizing the rights and privileges of our citizens abroad to participate in the government of their country. Nigeria Diaspora Voting Class Action Suit â Plaintiffs' List S/N Name City & Country of Residence State of Origin in Nigeria 1. Hon. Akeem Bello Chapel Hill, NC, USA Ogun 2. Prof. Bolaji Aluko Burtonsville, MD,USA Ekiti 3. Dr. Baba M. Adam Prescott, AZ, USA Borno 4. Mr. Uzoma Onyemaechi Taylor, MI, USA Imo 5. Prof. Isa Odidi Toronto, Canada Kano 6. Dr. Emmanuel Dada Princeton, NJ, USA Ekiti 7. Mr. Segun Ajibulu Raleigh, NC, USA Ekiti 8. Mr. Surajudeen Seriki Houston, TX, USA Ogun 9. Ms. Zainabu N. Sheni Silver Spring, MD, USA Plateau 10. Prof. Adeoye Akinsanya Austell, GA, USA Ogun 11. Mr. Uzoma C. Obi York, PA, USA Imo 12. Oloye Lekan Awojoodu Burtonsville, MD, USA Osun 13. Prince Stephen T. Malu Gainesville, FL, USA Benue 14. Mr. Victor O.A. Adewusi East Providence, RI, USA Ekiti 15. Mr. Kolawole E. Silva-Ope Dallas, TX, USA Lagos 16. Mr. Alex Ike Okeke Baltimore, MD, USA Anambra 17. Sir Tony Nammor Bladensburg, MD, USA Delta 18. Dr. Yemi Oke Toronto, Canada Ogun 19. Mr. Ochi C. Ogbuaku, II Ajman, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Abia 20. Dr. (Mrs.) Oluremi Ajibewa Gravesend, Kent, UK Ondo For more information, please contact Ms. Thelma Horton (NDERG Executive Director) 919-636-5958 Nigerian Diaspora Electoral Reform Group NDERG

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NGEX welcomes and encourages reader comments. Permission to post reader comments is assumed, and we reserve the right to excerpt or edit for clarity any comments that are posted. We won't be able to publish all comments. And we can't vouch for the accuracy of posts from readers. Nickname or Name will be used to identify your post.
Dr. Etuka Obinwa    York, United States    December 31, 2009
I am very concerned with the rate of corruption in Nigeria. Does it mean that those in positions of power and authority do not have any milk of human sympathy to realise what Nigerians are going through daily not only in Nigeria but outside the country too. Our country Nigeria has been taken over by rogues and looters of the peoples' money.

Is it not yet high time we all say 'No' to any form corruption in Nigeria? It is really hurting the country which was once the pride of the acclaimed established countries. We are now compared with the Banana Republic countries. For decades, nothing ever works in Nigeria without corruption being in the fore-front. We still have a lot to do in this regard. It is not only for us but for the generations of Nigerians to come.

Dr. Etuka Obinwa
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