Nigerians have taken to social media to lambast the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission for allowing children to vote in the election that took place across the 44 local government areas in the state.
Several pictures and videos circulating on social media show children, said to be between the ages of nine and 16, being accredited by electoral officials wearing face masks with the KANSIEC logo.
In one of the videos, a young boy who appears to be between the age of 11 and 13, at Gwazaye polling unit, Kumbotso Local Government Area, is seen fixing his thumbprint against a party logo while other children struggle to receive their ballot papers.
Although many first doubted if the videos and pictures were recent, they were soon authenticated when officials wearing face masks in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols were seen.
In the videos trending, some of the children are seen forming queues and mingling in contravention of the COVID-19 protocol. They subsequently affix thumbprints on ballot papers and cast their ballots.
On Twitter @EduWaltzChuka tweeted, “I have watched these videos coming out from Kano and I feel so ashamed for doing the right thing. In 2017 when I was working as an ad hoc staff for INEC during voter cards enrolment, I personally made sure anybody suspected to be under age 18 enrolled in Nnokwa.”
@osheguy tweeted, “This is sad and appalling.”
A tweep, Adegoke Victor, who claimed to have served in Borno State in 2007, and he witnessed underage voting in 2007, wrote, “This is not new to me at all; I served with INEC in Maiduguri in 2007, I experienced it first- hand and I made an attempt not to register the underage but I was given a stern warning not to try it -otherwise I won’t return home alive. I simply backtracked.”
“No nation should accept this,” tweeted influencer, Henry Shield.
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The Chairman, KANSIEC, Prof Garba Sheka, neither responded to a telephone call nor a text message on Saturday.
Local government election have been known to be fraught with electoral fraud as ruling parties are known to always win by a landslide, a move which has seen many Nigerians calling for an amendment to the constitution that would allow the Independent National Electoral Commission conducting local government polls.
Although Nigerian law prohibits persons below the age of 18 from voting, many states have in recent time witnessed child voting even during federal elections.
In 2015, children were also seen voting in Kano State, a development which the Peoples Democratic Party claimed contributed to the victory of All Progressives Congress candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who emerged the winner of the presidential election.
The Senate recently came under fire for attempting to give married underage girls the right to vote.