Posted by Emeka Umeagbalasi | 30 April 2014 | 3,834 times
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) wishes to revisit and re-educate Nigerians and the rest of the global community over continuing misinterpretation by some malicious Nigerians of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010 as they concern who, in the eyes of the criminal law (misdemeanor), is a double or multiple voter registered voter. We had prior to the November 16 and 30, 2013 crucial governorship poll in Anambra State, released publicly circumstances under which a citizen can be tagged” a malicious double or multiple voter registered voter”. This followed accusations to the effect that one of the governorship candidates in the poll, Mr. Willie Obiano “is a double or multiple registered voter”, having been accused of registering doubly or multiply in one or more than one registration centers.
Our findings then showed that while Section 12 of the Electoral Act of 2010 frowns and criminalizes double or multiple registration, Section 13 provides for exemption only if the citizen involved undertakes the process of voter’s card and data transfer from his or her previous place of registration to his or present place of registration. This must be done in full compliance with the provisions of the Act under reference. Our revisiting the issue, therefore, is based on continuing misleading statements and misinterpretations of the affected provisions oiled by the camps of the malicious citizens.
Below are the full provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the said Electoral Act:
Section 12.-(1) A person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person:
(a) is a citizen of Nigeria;
(b) has attained the age of eighteen years;
(c) is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the Local
Government/Area Council or Ward covered by the registration centre;
(d) presents himself to the registration officers of the Commission for
registration as a voter; and
(e) is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or
regulations in force in Nigeria.
(2) No person shall register in more than one registration centre or register
more than once in the same registration centre.
(3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (2) of this section
commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100,000
or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.
Section 13.-(1) A person who before the election is resident in a constituency other than
the one in which he was registered may apply to the Resident Electoral
Commissioner of the State where he is currently resident for his name to be
entered on the transferred voters List for the constituency.
(2) An application under subsection (1) of this section shall be accompanied by
the applicant’s voters’ card and shall be made not less than 30 days before the
date of an election in the constituency where the applicant is resident.
(3) The Resident Electoral Commissioner to whom an application is made under
the provision of this Section shall cause to be entered the applicant’s name in
the Transferred Voters' List if he is satisfied that the applicant is resident in a
polling area in the constituency and is registered in another constituency.
(4) Whenever an Electoral Officer on the direction of the Resident Electoral
Commissioner enters the name of any person on the Transferred Voters’ List for
his constituency, he shall-(a) assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his Constituency and indicate in the list the Polling unit to which that person is assigned;
(b) issue the person with a new voters' card and retrieve his previous
voter’s card; and(c) send a copy of the entry to the Electoral Officer of the constituency
where the person whose name has been so entered was originally
registered and upon receipt of this entry, that Electoral Officer shall delete
the name from his voters’ list.
Contrary to the position of Mr. Willie Obiano’s opponents, Section 12 of the Electoral Act of 2010 reproduced above, cannot be validly read or applied in absence of Section 13. Both must go together whenever an accusation of double or multiple registration and a defense of voter’s card and data transfer arise. Once it is proved documentarily that Mr. Obiano followed all the processes laid down above with respect to voter’s card and data transfer, he has no case to answer either in criminal law’s misdemeanor or in civil law. Where there is documentary evidence both in INEC and Obiano’s records showing transfer of his voter’s card from Lagos to Anambra, then, double or multiple registrations is extinguished.
Further, Mr. Willie Obiano can never be punished for perceived administrative lapses of the relevant INEC staffs, assuming they failed to delete his name in his previous area of registration (i.e. Lagos). Doing so amounts to transfer of criminal liability, unknown to Nigeria’s criminal laws. The responsibility of deleting a voter’s previous data in a voter’s card transfer squarely lies on INEC. Section 13 (4) of the Electoral Act of 2010 is very clear on this. It states: (4) Whenever an Electoral Officer on the direction of the Resident Electoral Commissioner enters the name of any person on the Transferred Voters’ List for his constituency, he shall-(a) assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his Constituency and indicate in the list the Polling unit to which that person is assigned; (b) issue the person with a new voter’s card and retrieve his previous Voter’s card; and(c) send a copy of the entry to the Electoral Officer of the constituency where the person whose name has been so entered was originally registered and upon receipt of this entry, that Electoral Officer shall delete the name from his voters’ list.
Where Mr. Willie Obiano Will Be Guilty As Accused:
Mr. Willie Obiano will be guilty as accused only if he has no documented records known to INEC and law showing he undertook the process of transferring his voter’s card from Lagos to Anambra within a time allowed by the Electoral Act of 2010, and that he deliberately registered more than once in one or more than one registration centers. He is not to be held criminally or legally liable for multiplicity of his voter’s registration if such multiplicity is found to have been caused by INEC’s poor electronic data management. This is because no citizen is allowed to be punished over a crime or misconduct or negligent act of another under Nigeria’s criminal law, except where he or she is a partaker.
•Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, writes from Onitsha. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or 08033601078, 08180103912. Photo shows Governor Obiano of Anambra State.
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