From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Prof. Mohammed Bello Magaji has called on relevant authorities to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow Nigerians in Diaspora vote  in the 2023 general elections and subsequent elections in the country.

Magaji, an Associate Professor of Law at American University of  Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa State, stated this in an interview with Daily Sun.

The don, who  has been teaching law for over 25 years in Nigeria and some African countries, argued that if Nigerians in Diaspora have been remitting their financial obligations to the country, they should also be given the rights to participate and vote in the nation’s general elections.

He said over 17 million Nigerians living overseas would be disenfranchised next year unless they are allowed to take part in the elections.

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He cited African countries like Bostwana, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal and South Africa that are already practising Diaspora voting, and urge Nigerian government to follow suit.

He said citizens of these countries vote at their countries’ Embassies during such elections and results sent back for coalition and announcements.

“Despite the major leaps recorded by the immediate past leadership of INEC, Diaspora voting wasn’t feasible for the 2015 and 2919 election, with federal lawmakers fixated on returning to office, amending the constitution to accommodate Nigerians abroad was not a priority.

“In December 2013, INEC had called for an amendment of sections (2) and 117 (2) of the 1999 Constitution to allow Nigerians in the Diaspora of voting age to participate in the 2015 elections, a similar call was made in 2012 by Abike Dabiri, then chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Nigerians in the Diaspora, when she and six others sponsored a bill seeking to amending Nigeria’s Electoral Act 2010 in order to grant Nigerians in the Diaspora the right to vote during the 2015 general elections, sadly these efforts did not materialise in time for the elections and 17 million Nigerians living a broad were disenfranchised.”