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Allow 7m Nigerians to complete voter registration or face legal action, SERAP tells INEC

Allow 7m Nigerians to complete voter registration or face legal action, SERAP tells INEC

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow seven million Nigerians to complete their voter registration.

SERAP made the call in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, warning that failure of the electoral body would attract legal action.

According to the rights group, INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical center.

SERAP believes that the right to vote is also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process so that it can be effectively exercised.

“The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised,” the statement read.

“Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians and denying them the time and opportunity to complete their registration cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.

“Denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters.”

See the full statement issued by SERAP below:

Allow 7m Nigerians to complete voter registration or face legal action, SERAP tells INEC

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “immediately give seven million Nigerians who have carried out their voter registration online the time and opportunity to complete the process so that they can obtain their permanent voter cards (PVCs), and exercise their right to vote.”

INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre.

This represents just 32.8 percent of completed online registration.

In the letter dated 13 August 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised.”

SERAP said, “Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians and denying them the time and opportunity to complete their registration cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.”

According to SERAP, “Denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters.”

The letter, read in part, “The failure of the applicants to complete their registration may be due to factors entirely outside of their control, especially given the well-documented challenges faced by many Nigerians at registration centres across the country.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and the affected Nigerians shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“Unless they are given a reasonable time and opportunity to complete the registration process, and to obtain their voter cards, these eligible Nigerians will not be able to vote in the 2023 general elections.”

“If citizens’ chance to vote is denied, that would amount to a violation of their fundamental right to vote, just as it would be if they were prevented from casting any vote at all.”

“The alleged failure of the applicants to complete their registration at INEC designated centers are not sufficiently weighty to justify their exclusion from the 2023 general elections.”

“Any proffered justifications of saving time and cost are therefore wholly insufficient. Administrative convenience is simply not a compelling justification in light of the fundamental nature of the right to vote.”

“This severe vote deprivation cannot be justified by any perceived considerations of saving time, especially because Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that ‘the registration of voters, updating and revision of the Register of Voters shall not stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by this Act.’”

“Providing fresh opportunity for the over seven million Nigerians to complete their registration would promote and preserve the right to vote, and ensure that legal and eligible voters are not inadvertently and unjustifiably turned away from exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

“By refusing the over seven million Nigerians the opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs, INEC have unfairly, unreasonably, and unjustifiably denied them the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner as to the reasons for not completing their registration.”

“Voter distrust is apparent in virtually empty polling places on election days. Nigeria historically has had low levels of voter turnout.”

“Allowing eligible Nigerians to complete their registration would improve citizens’ participation in the electoral process, and public confidence in the electoral system, as well as the ability of INEC to discharge its constitutional and statutory responsibility fairly, justly, and reasonably.”

“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) provides in Section 14(1)(c) that, ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’”

“Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance guarantee the right to political participation, including the right to vote.”

“According to our information, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), recently disclosed that over seven million Nigerians who carried out their voter pre-registration online could not complete the process at physical centres.”

“According to a report released by INEC, out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8 percent, completed the process at a physical centre. 7,043,594 Nigerians carried out their pre-registration but are yet to complete the process at a physical centre.”

“This represents over 67 percent of those who began their registration process online.”

“According to INEC, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians completed their voter registration; 8,854,566 of which were persons who did their registration entirely at a physical centre.”

“The over seven million Nigerians have already completed their registration online, that is, via INEC online portal by providing their biodata and required documents.”

“According to INEC process, that is outstanding for the applicants to complete the registration for their PVCs is to visit INEC designated centres for their biometric to be captured.”

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

14/8/2022

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News

Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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News

400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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