UK-based Nigerian groups yesterday said the suspension of the Bill on Diaspora voting by the National Assembly was a “collective disenfranchisement of innocent citizens”. The bill, which seeks to allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote in future elections, suffered a setback in the House of Representatives as it was suspended for further input.
Most of the lawmakers who spoke on the bill, sponsored by Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN Lagos), said the country could not afford the cost of conducting such an election. “Clearly, this is collective disenfranchisement of a group of innocent citizens by our government on the basis of their abode,” Ms Jenny Okafor, President of Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership Forum, said in an interview in London.
“It amounts to discrimination and breach of our fundamental human rights. She explained that the reasons cited for the suspension of the bill such as costs, geographical spread of Nigerians abroad and the timing were not made “in good faith”. “In order for true democracy to prosper, every Nigerian of qualifying age, mind and character, whether at home or abroad, must be able to vote,” she said.