n African Human Rights Law Journal - Ballot or bullet : protecting the right to vote in Nigeria

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This article aims to construct a new paradigm for understanding the right to vote in Nigeria. Following strong indications that the 2011 Nigerian elections were managed better than in previous years, it is to be hoped that future elections can be built on its relative success. Therefore, as the country appears to have a handle on its electoral pathologies (albeit relatively speaking), the article examines one way of providing this assurance by placing the Nigerian voter at the centre and not the margins of the electoral process. It analyses the right to vote and what it means to the average Nigerian voter. Its starting position is that the right to vote is nowhere explicitly enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution or its electoral laws. Where, universally speaking, to vote is either a legal or constitutional right, the article argues that in none of those conceptions does such a right exist in Nigeria. Further, it shows how the Nigerian legal and electoral systems inordinately prioritise the rights of political parties and their candidates in elections over and above those of the ordinary voter, an issue which it is contended has to be satisfactorily addressed to meaningfully build upon the gains of the 2011 elections.

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