Nigeria Electoral Umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has ruled out the possibility of inmates in correctional centres across the country voting in the 2023 general elections.
The Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this yesterday, Tuesday, when the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, Haliru Nababa, paid him a visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Yakubu was reacting to the NCoS CG’s information that his visit was to work out the modalities for inmates to vote in forthcoming elections, including next year’s general elections.
He noted that there are some germane issues that need to be discussed very carefully and that it is seven months to the 2023 general elections and coupled with other legal encumbrances on the category of inmates that the law permits to vote, it would be practically impossible for prison inmates to vote in next year elections.
The INEC boss emphasized that next year’s general elections is not the last election that will be conducted in Nigeria, so in the event that the Commission fails to meet all the critical thresholds for 2023, the Commission will continue with a discussion to see what happens beyond 2023.
According to him, there is a need to discuss the practicalities of how this can be achieved in the country. On the legal framework, he cited section 12(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which listed 5 qualifications for registration as a voter in Nigeria and particularly the fifth qualification, which states that he or she must not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote under the law, rule or regulation imposed in the country.
He said the Nigerian Correctional Services need to advice the Commission on the categories of inmates that will exercise the right to vote and if political parties would be allowed to campaign inside the Correctional Centres.
He also expressed the concern of whether election observers and the media would be allowed to access the Correctional Centres on election days, to boost the transparency of the process and if officials of the Commission, INEC, will be granted access to the correctional centres for voter education.
Recall that a Court recently gave judgment in favour of inmates to vote during elections.