By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has concluded a stakeholders validation conference on the framework for Internally Displaced Persons IDPs with a resolution to make special provisions for IDPs outside Nigeria to vote in next February general elections.
At the hours-long conference, which was jointly organized with the International Foundation for Electoral Support IFES, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced that, “IDPs in the neighbouring countries of Niger and Chad who left their abodes due to insurgency in the North East would not be denied their voting rights.”
The INEC Chairman who earlier launched the ‘Framework for Voting by Internally Displaced Persons IDPs’, said the framework is a policy document proposed to guide the conduct of IDP voting operations and bring the IDP communities into the voting net.
The commission said the overarching principle for the framework is her commitment to inclusivity which is consistent with the avoidance of discrimination in the electoral process.
The commission had before the 2015 general elections pushed for an amendment of the Electoral Act which gave rise to Section 26(1) of the 2015 Electoral Act (as amended). The section provides that; “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as possible, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised”.
However, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adamu Kamale, representing Michika/Madagali Federal Constituency of Adamawa state said most of those displaced in his area had since returned to their homes, saying what they need to be able to participate in the polls is enough security.
According to Kamale, 97 percent of IDPs in the state have since returned to their homes stressing the need to guarantee their security to enable them vote.
He said; “I can confirm to you that 97 percent of IDPs in Adamawa have since returned home. But the only challenge they have is that of security. Their security needs to be guaranteed in order to enable them vote in the elections”.