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Prove Nigerian students were illegally registered – Supervisor

Prove Nigerian students were illegally registered – Supervisor

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Supervisor of elections Sylvia Findlay says she has no intention of discriminating against Nigerian students who are resident here, who may wish to register for identification cards.

Findlay was a guest on the ‘Views on Issues’ radio programme on the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio on Sunday, when a caller quizzed her on the registration of Nigerians in East Kingstown.{{more}}

“I was hoping I didn’t have to go through this, because I issued a public statement, which was brought on national radio and television, but since the electoral office has nothing to hide, I shall go through it hopefully for the last time.”

Findlay said up until November 16, there were six medical students of Nigerian birth and nationality registered in the country. She said of these, there were two in East St George, two in West St George, one in Marriaqua and one in East Kingstown.

“But, on the 16th (November), five medical students showed up to register in East Kingstown. The registering officer followed all the correct procedures and they were registered. But because of the hype this was given, I personally summoned the five young men to my office. They were there on Friday afternoon and I told them bring back every document they took,” she stated.

On November 17, during a radio programme, New Democratic Party leader Arnhim Eustace said that he was given information that between 16 and 18 Nigerian medical students had registered to vote in East Kingstown, when in fact they did not live in that constituency – a claim that Findlay had vehemently refuted in a release on November 18.

Eustace described the registration of the Nigerians as a deliberate, calculated exercise being carried out by the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate in East Kingstown.

The elections supervisor, however, said the Nigerian students who registered on November 16 have been in St Vincent for periods ranging between a year and three years and that all had close to one year remaining in the country, stamped by the chief immigration officer.

“Some of them, since they came to this country, they’ve never left. They brought me their documents showing their admission to the medical college they are attending in this country. They brought me their lease from their landlord; they brought me birth certificates, passports, everything that we wanted to see and I am convinced they were legally registered just like the other six. As we speak, there are 11 of them who would be registered.

“I am not going to, as the supervisor of elections, discriminate against Nigerians students. There are Indians, Canadians, Australians, Trinidadians, Grenadians, Dominicans, Guyanese, and Jamaicans, you name them, Commonwealth citizens who are here residing in this country….

“And may I say that I think that we come across as a petty and insular country when we take these positions, because I have seen ID cards for students who studied in other countries but qualified. The [Representation of the People Act] in most, if not all Commonwealth countries are the same,” Findlay stated.

The elections supervisor said Nigerian students should not be intimidated because they are guests who have come here as students, just like children of Vincentians are students in other countries.

“Would we want people to be intimidating them if they show up to get a voter ID card in another country?”

Findlay then threw out a challenge to the public to prove to the electoral office that the students were illegally registered.

“You can say they are Nigerians and they were registered. What you need to say to me is, were they legally registered? And I contend they were legally registered, and I hope I don’t have to speak on this matter again. It is taking up too much of time that I ought to spend dealing with more important issues. If the question comes up again, I will not respond,” Findlay said firmly.

The Representation of the People Act 1982 Cap. 9 Sec. 5. (1) provides for Commonwealth citizens who are resident in the State for a period of at least 12 months and reside in a particular constituency for six months to register as voters.(KW)

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