Monday, 28 March 2011

Nigeria: Know your inalienable voter's rights

You have a great responsibility

As the first of the three consecutive election weekends in Nigeria arrives on the 2nd of April 2011, never has it been more the duty and responsibility of Nigerians to ensure that their express wishes at the ballot box are transparently, fairly, honestly and truthfully represented in the results that are announced in all the elections they participate in.

Following the notices that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disseminated to the public through their website, on social media sites as Twitter and at press conferences, it is incumbent on every Nigerian to be aware of their rights as they exercise their constitutional rights to vote in their representatives and governments.

Get informed

Your first source of information is the INEC website [1], the guidelines they issued [2] regarding the elections have been condensed into a blog with related sites to help you understand what will happen on Election Day.

The @inecnigeria Twitter account posted a number of tweets that have been collated into a blog at NigeriansTalk.Org as a primer on the elections [3], the paper trail of how the results of the elections will be announced by Presiding Officers at the Polling Unit, the Registration Area, the Local Government Area, the State Level and at the Federal Level by the Chief Electoral Officer is documented in the blog that shows the INEC Electoral Chain of Custody [4].

Beyond vigilance, Nigerians must protect their votes and this starts by knowing their rights, all derived from all the guidelines given by INEC.

Your rights at the Polling Unit

It is the right of every Nigerian to help ensure the independence and impartiality of INEC is protected, guaranteed and enforced to the full by participation in the electoral process.

It is the right of every registered voter to be at their Polling Unit on Election Day from when it opens for accreditation at 08:00AM until when the results of the vote at that Polling Unit are published and posted at that Polling Unit.

All accredited voters are entitled by right and by encouragement of INEC to visit their Polling Units with their mobile devices and use them freely at their Polling Units. (This invalidates, countermands and renders illegal the atrocious warning [5] of the Inspector General of Police.)

Avail yourselves of the ReVoDa Voter Monitoring System [6] to report events at your Polling Unit.

It is the right of every accredited Nigerian voter to vote according to their persuasion, their conscience, their conviction and never under duress or inducement by any politician, religious or tribal leader or for compensation.

It is the right of every accredited Nigerian voter to use their vote wisely, the people we elect in April with run the country for the next four years, their decisions will affect our lives at home and abroad, our future, our prospects, our progress, our economy, our livelihoods and much more – ensure the party that has your endorsement at the ballot box can and will affect your life as a Nigerian for the better.

If you have doubts or have questions that have not been properly addressed today, endeavour to research and appreciate who really can deliver the Nigerian vision you have.

The INEC Official is chief

The most senior Nigerian Official at any accredited Polling Unit and all the collation centres is the INEC official; security agents answer to the INEC official and that INEC official controls all the activities that help in the smooth running of the electoral process relying on the support of INEC assistants and the law enforcement duties of security agents under the order and control of that INEC official.

The INEC official should ensure all activities are transparent to the accredited monitors, the assembled and accredited voters, the security agents and the party agents.

Law enforcement personnel are subject to INEC on electoral matters

All law enforcement personnel when it pertains to the electoral process are answerable to the designated INEC official at that location and they shall not act outside the remit and authority of the INEC official during the whole electoral exercise.

It goes without saying that the Inspector General of Police is also answerable to the authority of INEC when it pertains to electoral matters on all Election Days at all INEC designated electoral premises throughout the federation.

The function of law enforcement is to maintain peace and order as well as facilitate the ability for Nigerians to observe the conduct of free, fair, honest and transparent elections.

One function of law enforcement personnel on Election Days is to enforce the restrictions on vehicular movement and unauthorised travel.

INEC and law enforcement with their weight of responsibility are at the service of the people of Nigeria NOT the other way round.

2011 is the now; this is the time you have to make a difference with your vote.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS IN 2011 and refuse to let your rights be infringed by anyone in the April Elections.

Sources

[1] INEC Nigeria

[2] Nigeria: INEC Election Guidelines - Critical Information

[3] Nigeria: A Primer on INEC Elections in April 2011 | NigeriansTalk

[4] Nigeria: INEC Electoral Chain of Custody

[5] April polls: Soyinka slams IGP over use of cell phones

[6] ReVoDa | How it works

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