2023 General Election Will Be Best Ever, INEC Chairman Assures
July 19, 2022
Longpet Sworn in As Resident Electoral Commissioner, Deployed to Kogi State
July 21, 2022

INEC, NCS Discuss Modalities for Actualising Inmates’ Voting  

Members of the Nigerian Correctional Service delegation with members of the Commission during their visit to the I NEC Headquarters on Tuesday 19th July.

By Nathaniel Gana

Tuesday 19th July 2022

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) have resumed discussions to find constructive ways of addressing all encumbrances to the participation of inmates in the electoral process. 

Both organisations had been meeting to determine the best way of giving inmates the opportunity to exercise their franchise. A Federal High Court sitting in Benin had, in 2014 ruled in favour of four inmates who wanted to exercise their right to vote.  But the modalities for implementing the order presented some challenges that the two organisations could not immediately address.

The effort to work towards actualizing inmate voting was renewed when the Comptroller General (CG) of the NCS, Haliru Nababa, represented by the Deputy Comptroller General in charge of Operations, Daniel Odaro, led a team to visit the Commission. The INEC Chairman and his team received the visitors at the INEC Headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday, 19th July, 2022. 

Prof. Yakubu affirmed that INEC was committed to inclusivity, including the rights of inmates to vote during the elections. He pointed out that inmate voting rights have been recognized in Kenya and South Africa, and Nigeria was ready to tow a similar path. 

 He however raised some germane issues which need to be addressed to allow for successful inmate voting. 

The INEC Chairman explained: “We need to discuss the practicalities of how this can be achieved in Nigeria. Let me start with the legal framework. Section 12, sub-section 1 of the Electoral Act 2022 lists five qualifications for registration as a voter in Nigeria, because you have to register as a voter before the right to exercise that right is conferred. That section of the Electoral Act  has at least five qualifications.” 

 He continued: “Number one, the prospective registrant must be a Nigerian citizen. Number two, he or she must be 18 years of age, at least. Number three, he or she must originate, reside or work in the local government or be covered by the registration centre or the point of registration. Number four that citizens of Nigeria must present himself or herself to the registration officer for registration and support. And number five, which is really critical to our discussion today, is that he or she must not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule, or regulation imposed in Nigeria”. 

 Prof. Yakubu added: “this is one area that we need to discuss so that we know the categories of inmates that will exercise the right to vote, therefore we need to work things out carefully. We want transparency of the process, because everything that we do in the Commission, particularly when it comes to the rights of citizens to vote, must be done transparently”. 

 Other areas germane issues raised by the INEC Chairman include; Location of Polling Unit for Inmates, possibility of political party campaigns in the correctional facilities, voter education for inmates, voter registration for inmates, and observers’ access to correctional facilities to monitor elections if polling units have to be situated in the facilities”. 

Prof. Yakubu also harped on the need to address the issues militating against inmate voting as soon as possible.

He said: “the sooner we’re able to address these issues, the better for the process. But remember, we have only a little over seven months to the next general election. But the next general election is not going to be the last election conducted by Nigeria. So, even if we don’t meet all these critical thresholds, or 2023. We’ll continue with a discussion to see what happens beyond 2023”.

Earlier, the representative of the CG of NCS, Mr. Daniel Odaro, explained that the purpose of the visit was to discuss the issue of the inmate voting rights.