- The chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu has said the upper chamber is pushing for Diaspora voting in the 2019 general elections
- Senator Sunmonu said that giving franchise to Nigerians abroad would give the impression that “they are part of the system”
- The Oyo state senator said she could not promise that Diaspora voting would be a reality in the 2019 general elections
The chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu has said the upper chamber is pushing for Diaspora voting in the 2019 general elections.
Sunmonu on Thursday, December 29, said that giving franchise to Nigerians abroad would give the impression that “they are part of the system”, adding that her committee had suggested how Nigerians in the Diaspora could vote in future elections.
She said: “The first thing that we must do is for Nigerians to have their rights to cast their votes anywhere they are. If you cast your vote, that makes you a part of the system.”
According to her, the Diaspora Nigerians who have the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) can cast their votes as the PVC has all their personal data and fingerprint.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs said: “The Nigerian Passports that are issued to people outside the country is the same thing with fingerprints and personal data. They can use that to cast their votes outside. So that shows they are Nigerians.
“If we start from there and they know that Nigerians outside can as well vote, then they will be able to know that we incorporate them into the system.
“They will know that it is their rights to come and fight for anything in Nigeria, to come and say yes, this is our votes in New York, Switzerland or anywhere. We must start with that; that is where we must start, to make them eligible to vote.”
However Sunmonu, said she could not promise that Diaspora voting would be a reality in the 2019 general elections.
“I can’t say but we know that as things are going now, the Senate will not hesitate to do its best and I will say that I give kudos to the leadership of the Senate who is looking at this.
“I know the committees on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Interior, and Foreign Affairs will all work together to see what we can do for Diaspora and for Nigerians just to make Nigeria move forward,” she further said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in November 2016 that the possibility of Nigerians living abroad to vote in the 2019 general elections would depend on the amendment to the country’s electoral laws.
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The chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, stated this when he played host to the Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs.
He said for the nation to allow Nigerians living abroad to vote, several sections of the constitution and the Electoral Act must be amended by the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Senate has started the process of amending section 308 of the 1999 constitution which gives the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors immunity against prosecution while they are in office.
The bill which was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (LP, Delta) has been referred to the Senate committee on constitution amendment chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.