Nigeria to allow Prison Inmates to Vote In 2019 Polls

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PIC.19. From left: National commissioner, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prince Solomon Adedeji; chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; and another national commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, during the INEC’s presentation of certificate of registration to five new political parties, in Abuja on Friday (16/6/17). 03311/16/6/2017/Hogan-Bassey/ BJO/NAN

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that it is making arrangements with the Nigerian Prisons Service to allow certain prisoners to vote in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a dialogue session involving over 70 civil society organizations in Nigeria.

This development is coming three years after a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State ruled that prisoners in Nigeria have the right to vote in all elections conducted in every part of the country.

Mr. Yakubu said that INEC is considering creating polling units in Nigerian prisons, clarifying that only “certain categories of prisoners” would be given the right to vote depending on the nature of the crimes committed.

“We have already engaged the Comptroller-General of Prisons and we have statistics on the number of prisoners nationwide and the number of inmates registered. We are looking at the possibility of creating polling units in the prisons and to enable some categories of prisoners to vote.

“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 many Nigerians as possible are given the opportunity to vote, will be done,” he said.

Speaking on the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election, Mr. Yakubu also said the commission would do everything to ensure that the election is conclusive and not rigged.

Mr. Yakubu raised concerns on the wrong substitutions of names of governorship candidates by two political parties ahead of the governorship election but refused to disclose the names of these parties.

He warned, however, that if the act was challenged in court, the whole election could be voided, and the country would have to bear the financial costs of redoing the election.

Mr. Yakubu said the electoral system was being threatened by the high level of non-compliance to the Electoral Act by the offending political parties in the state.

Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and convenor of the Situation Room, said Tuesday’s event, entitled “Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue,” was organized to disclose the commission’s preparations for the forthcoming Anambra State governorship poll as well as other upcoming elections.

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