By Stanley Alieke, Esq.
“The Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria is supreme and it is over and above every other law in Nigeria, it supersedes every law and other laws are to be subjected under it. Any law which raises its ugly head be it by omission or commission to be in conflict with the Constitution is to be declared null and void to the extent of its inconsistency”.
The memory verse recited above which is the provision of the Constitution in S1(1-3) (although garnished) was recited to give us a safe landing on this controversial but germane argument I will be making in this piece; ” that the act of mandating citizens for voter registration and obtaining TVC or PVC before they could exercise their fundamental right to vote is in conflict with provisions of the Constitution and therefore unconstitutional”.
What does the Constitution say about voting?
The Constitutional provision that is summarized to be the right to vote and be voted for or franchise or suffrage as provided in Chapter IV of the Constitution stipulates that every person who is a Nigerian citizen and have have attained the age of majority and is of sound mind has the right to vote and every Nigerian citizen who is of the right age, possess the right and required qualifications and is of sound mind have the right to be voted for.
For someone to be a voter in Nigeria and exercise his or her fundamental right he or she must, first of all, be a Nigerian citizen and he or she must have attained the age of majority and he or she must also be of sound mind; these are the major conditions provided and is needed for a one to be a voter in Nigeria and every other qualifier or conditions provided and set by any other law, enactments or statutes is only conflicting and trying to rub shoulders with the supremacy of the Constitution and by the reason of that legislative insolence that other law must be declared null and void to the extent that it tried to ridicule the supreme Constitution.
If a Constitutional provided fundamental right is subjected to some other preconditions and postconditions before a citizen who has attained the qualifying benchmark set by the Constitution then it will be a total slap and ridicule on the sanctity and superiority of the Constitution. If conditions are set before a citizen can exercise his right to vote then there should as well be other qualifiers and conditions set that citizens must fulfill before citizens can exercise their other fundamental human rights like the right to speak freely, right to move around, right to acquire and own properties, etc because what goes for Peter goes for Paul as well.
On this note, every other condition set either by the electoral act or the voter registration act or any other enactment whatsoever mandating a citizen to go through before that citizen can exercise his or her fundamental human right is unconstitutional and therefore should be struck down by the almighty sword of the judiciary and be declared null and void.
The voter registration exercise, collection of Tvc or PVC before a citizen who has attained the age of majority and of sound mind can exercise his or her fundamental human right to vote does not align with the Constitution: I am a Nigerian, I have attained the age of majority and I am if sound mind; that is enough identifier and qualifier for me to exercise my right to vote and should never be subjected to the rigorous exercise or voter registration and obtainance of tvc and pvc before I can be permitted to exercise my constitutionally provided fundamental human rights. This is absurd and ridiculous.
Subjecting citizens to fulfill some other conditions before they could be allowed to vote is tantamount to disenfranchisement and no person or law has the power to disenfranchise any Nigerian citizen. The voter registration exercise should therefore be scrapped and expunged totally as it is a disenfranchisement tool and ploy which is having a bold fight with the Constitutional provision and the Constitution is supreme as Stated in s1(3) and no enactment or other law can ever put up a fight with the supreme constitution.
A Nigerian having identified himself to be a Nigerian by the means of presenting a valid government-issued ID and having shown that he has attained the age of majority should be the only condition for a citizen to vote and those conditions are more than enough. This is what is obtainable in other developed democratic nations. Voters registration exercise is only a unique introduction to the Nigerian political space.
On this note, the voter’s registration exercise and possession of tvc or pvc as a prerequisite to voting as provided in electoral acts and voter registration acts or any other enactments or provisions is unconstitutional, hence should be declared null and void to the extent of its inconsistency.
Universal adult suffrage is not a local right, it is a right that is universally recognized and adopted in universal laws; it is provided for in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is to show how important this right is and no one, absolutely no one should be denied such rights either by express or intentional act or by obscure acts like mandatory rigorous voters registration exercise of the INEC.
Stanley Alieke, Esq is a lawyer based in Abuja., email@example.com
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