Arrangements are being made so that come 2019, prisoners will be allowed to vote in the general elections, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said.
Prof. Yakubu made the revelation at a dialogue session with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue – a coalition of over 70 civil society organizations in Nigeria. He disclosed that The Independent National Electoral Commission is already making arrangements with the Nigeria Prisons Service to make this possible. The electoral body said it is looking at the possibility of creating polling units in Nigerian prisons.
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 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, we will do so.”
If things go as planned, Nigeria will join other countries like France, Norway, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Zimbabwe amongst others where prison inmates are allowed to vote.
The development comes 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 the country.
Speaking of the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, Yakubu said the commission is determined to ensure that the poll is concluded on first ballot and that it is not inconclusive.
“We are determined also to make Anambra the first conclusive governorship election in a long time. So, it’s a priority case for us as we approach other elections,” he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Director Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) 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.