The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is making arrangement with the Nigerian Prisons Service to ensure that Prisoners are allowed to vote in the 2019 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in a meeting with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue, stated that the Commission was looking at the possibility of creating polling units in Nigerian Prisons to allow some category of Inmates cast their vote, depending on the nature of crimes they committed.
“Ghana does it but there are some categories of prisoners who by the nature of crimes committed lose the right to vote. Whatever we can do to open up the process to ensure that as much as possible Nigerians are given the opportunity to vote, will be done”.
Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Clement Nwankwo, said the event was organised to find out the Commission’s preparations for the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship poll as well as other elections update.
In 2014, a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, ruled that inmates of prisons have the right to vote in all elections, conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, in the Country.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mohammed Lima, said:
“Act by INEC to deny inmates the right to vote is unconstitutional, illegal, irregular, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever”.
“The defendants do not have the constitutional right to deny the claimants their voting rights, being an inmate is not an offence that impedes their registration and voting right under section 24 of the Electoral Act; and that the exclusion of inmates in elections conducted in Nigeria is illegal and ultra vires”.
The United Kingdom is the only Country in Western Europe that still enforces a total ban on prisoners voting in elections, a law which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has now ruled as breaching Inmates’ Human Rights.
Countries like Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Finland, Canada, Israel, and France amongst others allow Prisoners vote.