Bill to allow displaced persons to vote passes first reading in Senate

By The Citizen

The Internally Displaced Persons in the North -Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe currently being ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency may exercise their franchise in the 2015 general elections, if a Bill in that regards scales through.

The new amendment Bill sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South), cited as the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2014, passed first reading in the upper chamber on Wednesday.

Ndume explained that many of his people would be disenfranchised if no provision was made to accommodate them since they had been dislodged from their ancestral homes.

The bill specifically seeks to establish polling units where eligible voters, who had been chased away from their ancestral homes by the dreaded insurgents,  would exercise their franchise in the 2015 general elections.

It would amend Section 42 of the Principal Act by inserting new Sub-clause 42 (2) which states that, 'The Commission shall establish Polling Units for Internally Displaced Persons, in their respective camps nationwide.'

Part of the amendment states that, 'In accordance with Section 42, the Commission shall establish sufficient number of Polling Units in each registration area and shall allot voters to such polling units.

'From the above, the issue of establishment of polling units at IDPs camps has to be addressed before the issue of voting during elections.

'If polling units are not established as stipulated in Section 42; it will be impracticable for them to vote.

'Accordingly, Section 49 states that, 'A person intending to vote with his voter card, shall present himself to a Presiding Officer at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered with his voter card.'

'Therefore, it is expedient that Polling Units should be created for or transferred to IDPs Camps in order not to disenfranchise them during elections in Nigeria.'