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Lawyer Faults Police Prohibition of Dogs at Polling Units on Election Day

Lawyer and human rights advocate, Abdul Aminu Mahmud has faulted the directive of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) which states that the use of pets, especially dogs at the polling units on election day is prohibited and criminal.

He explained that the Police has misinterpreted the laws of the land and is only trying to suppress the rights of dog owners who seek to protect themselves in the public space.

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The social critic argued that had the Police discharged their lawful duty of protecting citizens on election day, they will not resort to self-help.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had on Monday warned those who intend to display their dogs at the polling units, to desist as such constitutes a violation of the electoral Act, 2022, as amended, and other extant laws.

Some electorates had passed a vote of no confidence in the NPF to provide adequate security for the forthcoming Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections, following attacks by political thugs who disrupted the voting process during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

They have hinted on bringing dogs to the polling units to protect themselves and prevent any reoccurrence of February 25, 2023.

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Adejobi however, in a statement said that the conceived ideas and plans by certain individuals, electorates, and groups of people to go to the polls accompanied by pets are unacceptable, stand discouraged, and remain an act of electoral infraction as it will cause harassment and intimidation.

“The provision of Section 126 (1) of the Electoral Act. 2022, explains clearly those actions exhibited by electorates that constitute electoral breaches and are punishable under the law, and paragraph (f) mentions possession of weapons calculated to intimidate voters and electoral officers.

“Dogs could be classed as offensive weapons as their owners/handlers can use them to intimidate, harass and cause assault and bodily harm to others. The Dogs Act, CAP 55 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1958 as domesticated in various States, and other Criminal Laws in Nigeria are trite”, the statement further read.

 

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Responding, Mahmud with the handle @Abdulmahmuh01 and popularly known as Dr. Great Oracle by his followers on Twitter wrote: “You’ve CLEARLY misinterpreted our laws.

“Firstly, the Dogs Act CAP 55 LFN 2004 is a Federal legislation which is only applicable in Abuja and the FCT. Secondly, there’s nothing in the Act that says dogs owners can’t bring dogs into the public space. The Act only enjoins dogs’ to leash, muzzle or harness their dogs while they are in the public space.

Further, and thirdly, there’s nothing in Section 126 (1) (f) of the Electoral Act, 2022 or Section 152 of the Electoral Act that classifies dogs as OFFENSIVE WEAPONS as you claimed.

“By the principle of interpretation, “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” – the express reference to the objects mentioned in Section 152 of the Electoral Act 202 excludes other objects not mentioned in the very Section 152. If the drafters of the Electoral Act 2022 intended dogs to be classified as offensive weapons, the phrase, “any other THING capable of being used as an offensive weapon or missile”, it would have mentioned or included them. Question: is the dog a thing – an inanimate thing?

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“Finally, the proper law that regulates the control of dogs in the public space in Lagos is the Animals Law of Lagos State, 2022. Sections 14, 16, and 17 of the law merely demand that dogs owners must leash, harness or muzzle their dogs when they are in public spaces. All you try to do in your press statement is extinguish the rights of dogs owners who seek to protect themselves in the public space”.

Mahmud further said that the NPF has no right to stop people who stand with their dogs more than 300 metres away from the polling units.

Ismail Aniemu

Ismail Aniemu, Publisher of JournalNG and ghost writer, is a maritime journalist of over two decades' of practice with multidisciplinary background. He holds a masters degree in Transport Management from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology(LAUTECH) with bias for logistics. He is also an alumnus of the Times Journalism Institute where he obtained a post graduate diploma in Journalism. Email: ismail.aniemu@aol.com

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