The Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Aisha Dukku, tabled the proposal before the Technical Committee on Electoral Reform on Wednesday.
According to Punch, the federal lawmakers specifically recommended that INEC should consider any married girl who is not up to 18 years as eligible to vote.
Both Gaya and Dukku at the inaugural session of the technical panel which also had in attendance, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the proposal was a unanimous decision of the joint committee of the National Assembly.
“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,” Gaya said.
Yakubu said the proposal was not yet before INEC and expressed doubts over whether it could fly because the country also has a constitutional age for marriage, which is 18 years.
Yakubu’s response did not go down well with Dukku, who immediately said the INEC boss should not have dismissed the proposal with a wave of the hand because the joint panel had adopted it.
“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.
“We should look at it and come up with something instead of throwing it away. It is not from us but from the stakeholders on the day of the public hearing held in the 8th Assembly,” he said.
This is coming a few weeks after the Nigerian Senate confirmed the appointment of Mahmood Yakubu as INEC Chairman for the second term of five years.