While it's the hope of every well-meaning Nigerian that the 2023 elections will be free and fair, it's also important for voters to take safety precautions in safeguarding their lives and properties.
How to stay safe as a voter on election day
Nigerian elections come with its peculiarities and there have been repeated cases of violence, inducement, political manipulations, and other forms of irregularities.
These are the safety tips voters should have at the back of their minds during the course of the 2023 election.
1. Arrive at your polling unit on time: Punctuality will give you the extra time needed to familiarise yourself with your environment. And since you will most likely be spending a few hours queuing in the sun, arriving on time could reduce the stress.
2. Don't wear politically-branded outfits: According to electoral guidelines, all political campaigns should end two days before the election day. Thus, wearing politically-branded outfits constitutes an attempt to campaign or induce voters on election day which is an offense according to Section 128 (c) of the Electoral Act 2022.
3. Avoid politically-charged conversations: While nothing stops you from socialising with other voters, it's imperative that you resist the temptation to be drawn into politically-charged conversations. Such conversations, especially with strangers might spiral into arguments which may result in undesirable consequences.
4. Stay updated: Part of being vigilant requires that you stay updated by reading the news or following the election on social media. This way, you can be aware of events as they unfold so as to avoid getting caught in the middle of any unrest.
5. Avoid spreading rumours: There will be different information flying around during the election and some of them will be false. Hence, you need to ensure you're getting your news from a credible source, and don’t share any information with dubious sources.
6. Don’t engage in election malpractice: You may encounter persons who may offer you money in exchange for your vote. You must not sell your vote as this is an offense punishable by a fine of N100,000, or a jail term of up to 12 months or both under Section 127 (d) of the Electoral Act 2022.
7. Step aside after casting your vote: After exercising your right to vote, you can hang around to monitor the vote counting process or you can return home and monitor the election through the media. But don’t do anything to disrupt the process or call undue attention to yourself.
8. Don't stay out late: While you have the freedom of movement, election day might not be the best time to move about aimlessly. To avoid getting caught up in the wrong side of town, you should consider returning home after voting.
9. Move with identification: It's important that you carry a means of identification when stepping out of your house. This will come in handy in case of a stop and search by the security forces or in the case of an emergency.
10. Stock up before the election: It's advisable that you stock up your home with some essentials before the election. This way, you can stay indoors where you're most safe.
11. Celebrate moderately: Should your desired candidate win the election, you should try to celebrate moderately so as not to attract unnecessary attention to yourself.
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