Nigeria: 68 million voters go to the polls on March 28

Nigeria: 68 million voters go to the polls on March 28

The insistence of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Suleiman Abba that voters who stay around the polling area after casting their ballot will be arrested has ruffled feathers in the already politically charged atmosphere in Nigeria. At a stake holders meeting in Abuja, on Monday, the IGP indicated that it was illegal for a voter  to loitre after voting.
 
However, political party representatives at the meeting said the ordinary Nigerian will hang around and with eagle eyes police their ballot to ensure that they were counted for the one they voted.
 
Security
 
Security for the March 28 general election is one paramount issue that both the government and opposition parties are not leaving to chance.
 
Whiles the government believes that it has a constitutional mandate through the police to protect the ballot boxes, INEC staff and voters from all hoodlums and more especially attacks from Boko Haram, the opposition is suspicious that the government was up to some mischief and that irrespective of the fact that they have their agents representing them at the polling units, the people must stay around.
 
Although the IGP read out portions of the laws to buttress his call, the party executives at the meeting and others across the country have kicked against the call.
 
Lagos INEC 
 
Speaking at a stakeholders forum Wednesday in Lagos, the Resident Director of Lagos INEC, Mr. Akin Orebiyi, told the gathering including political parties, civil society groups, religious entities and international observers, that voters can stay around after voting.
 
This really calmed nerves.
 
Mr Orebiyi said they could stay about 30 metres away from the voting units and must not be seen or heard disturbing or impeding the smoothness of the process.
 
This drew thunderous applause from the people most of whom were worried about the IGP’s declaration in Abuja barring them from staying around the polling station.
 
Voting Process
 
In Nigeria, the voting process is divided into two parts; the accreditation and voting process.
 
From 8.am to 1pm, voters will queue and ensure that their names are in the register at a particular polling station.
 
They must also present their chip-based identity cards and after it had been verified with the card reading machine, the voter’s finger would be marked with indelible ink after which the voter would be asked to go home and come for the election.
 
At exactly, 1.30pm, the Presiding Officer will announce the commencement of voting. 
 
Voters will join the queue in an orderly manner. A security man will then stand behind the last person on the queue.
 
After this, only those in the queue at the time of the announcement will be allowed to vote. Even if you come around 2pm, you will not be allowed to vote.

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