THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND VOTERS INTIMIDATION IN NIGERIA
By Helen Mukoro Idisi – June 22, 2017
Helen Mukoro Idisi is a Spanish politician, author, journalist, scriptwriter, administrator, legal adviser, proprietor of HMI Documentary Media and presidential candidate, 2016 Spanish general elections. All rights reserved.
Voting is a right and an obligation of every citizen. It is a key piece of our participation in society. The Nigerian Constitution ensures all Nigerians over 18 years of age the right to participate in elections by methods of suffrage.
The right to vote has no distinctions of race, creed, gender, socioeconomic status or political militancy. Only a judge can deny the privilege to vote in two cases: be convicted of a crime or be liable to a procedure of incapacitation.
With respect to the legal good protected in these crimes, the Nigerian criminal law protects the electoral process itself rather than the democratic structure itself, rebuffing those practices that impede or hinder the freedom of decision of the voters or distort the electoral result.
Intimidation is defined as an unlawful act of deliberately forcing or startling somebody to do (or to not do) against his or her will, for example, compelling some person to remain at home as opposed to endeavoring to gain a salary or pressurize voters to avoid voting in a general election by threat of violence and manipulation.
The Constitution requires the National Electoral Commission, to bolster the electoral process with all kinds of guarantees aimed at protecting the formation of the popular will and its decisions, each one can support the candidate or list of his preference, in light of his unrestrained choice, non-threatening, intimidating or any other form of pressure.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948; Recognizes the role that open and transparent elections play in guaranteeing the fundamental right to participate in government. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes in article 21:
“Everyone has the right to participate in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives’ ‘The will of the people is the basis of the authority of the public power; This will shall be expressed through authentic elections to be held periodically, by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot or other equivalent procedure that guarantees freedom of vote”.
Democracy needs citizens to partake and approve decisions of general interest. The nature of our decisions at the polls depends to a huge degree on the welfare of all.