National Assembly wants INEC to consider underage married girls as voters

INEC boss has expressed doubts over the proposal, saying it may not fly.

President of the Senate, Ahmaad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. [Twitter/@SPNigeria]

The National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission Matters has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider any married girl that is not up to 18 as eligible to vote.

The committee made the call while proposing a review of the provision in the Electoral Act on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.

According to Punch, the review was proposed to the Technical Committee on Electoral Reform by the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Aisha Dukku.

The technical panel is made up of lawmakers, INEC officials and civil society groups dealing with election matters.

During the inaugural meeting of the panel, which had the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu in attendance, Gaya and Dukku reportedly told the panel that the proposal was a unanimous decision of the joint committee of the National Assembly.

Gaya said, “The joint committee has proposed a review of the section of the Electoral Act that pegged the eligibility age of voters at 18 years.

“The joint committee has proposed that if a lady who is not up to 18 years is married, she should be considered to be mature enough and be eligible to vote.”

Reacting to the proposal, INEC boss expressed doubts over the suggestion, saying it may not fly because Nigeria’s constitution also recognises 18 as the constitutional age of marriage.

According to Punch, Yakubu’s response didn’t go down well with Dukku.

The lawmaker was reported to have told the INEC Chairman that he shouldn’t have dismissed the proposal because the joint panel had adopted it.

She said, “It was one of the submissions on the day of the public hearing in the last Assembly that a married lady or a girl who is not up to 18 years should be considered as an eligible voter.

“It is already in the Electoral Act amendments submitted in the last Assembly; so it cannot be thrown away just like that.

Dukku argued that instead of throwing the proposal away, Yakubu should have looked at it and come up with suggestions.

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