Prisoners should be allowed to vote in the 2019 general elections if arrangements being made by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigeria Prisons Service succeed.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this in Abuja on Tuesday at a dialogue session with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue – a coalition of over 70 civil society organisations in Nigeria.
Three years ago, a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo State, ruled that prisoners in Nigeria have the right to vote in all elections conducted in the country.
Yakubu said the commission was looking at the possibility of creating polling units in Nigerian prisons to allow some categories of inmates to vote.
He, however, said certain categories of prisoners would not be allowed to vote depending on the nature of the crimes they committed.
Yakubu said, “We have already engaged the Comptroller-General of Prisons and we have statistics on the number of prisoners nationwide and the number of inmates that are 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 much as possible Nigerians are given the opportunity to vote, will be done.”
Also speaking on the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, the INEC boss said the commission would do everything to ensure that the election is not inconclusive.
Yakubu raised the alarm over the wrongful substitution of names of governorship candidates by two political parties ahead of the governorship election.
He regretted that the high level of non-compliance to the Electoral Act by the political parties was threatening the electoral system.
Although the INEC boss declined to name the parties involved in the wrongful substitution of candidates’ names, he warned that if the act was eventually challenged in court, the whole election could be voided on that account and the nation made to bear the financial brunt of conducting a fresh election.
The Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, and Convener of Situation Room, 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.