Friday
August, 19

Prisoners Voting In 2023 General Elections Worry INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been petitioned by the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to provide jail inmates the right to vote, but this has alarmed INEC.

Haliru Nababa, the NCoS comptroller-general, made the statement while leading management on a visit to the INEC headquarters in Abuja.

In accordance with a recent court ruling, Mr. Nababa said the meeting with INEC was to work out the details for the inmates to vote in the 2023 elections. He was represented by Assistant Comptroller-General Daniel Odharo.

“The court recently gave a judgment in favour of inmates voting in elections. The modalities to meet the process need to be worked out and so we need to be here to discuss with INEC to find out how this process can be achieved,” Mr Nababa said.

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, stated that the organization was dedicated to inclusivity, which included the rights of prisoners to cast ballots in elections.

He mentioned South Africa and Kenya as two African nations that grant prisoners these rights, but he also made notice of several important considerations.

READ MORE: RCCG: Adeboye Didn’t Meet Tinubu, Endorse Any Candidate

“Let me start with the legal framework. Section 12(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 as a voter is conferred. Number one, the prospective registrant must be a Nigerian citizen,” Mr Yakubu explained. “Number two, he or she must be 18 at least. Number three, he or she must originate, reside or work in the local government or ward covered by the registration center or the point of registration.”

The INEC chief further stated, “Number four, that citizens of Nigeria must present himself or herself to the registration officer for registration as a voter. 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. So this is one area that we need to discuss so that we know the categories of inmates that will exercise the right to vote.”

He maintained that INEC would want to maintain transparency in its process “because everything that we do in the commission, particularly when it comes to the rights of citizens to vote, must be done transparently.”

Mr. Yakubu questioned if voting would take place inside or outside the institution.

Mr. Yakubu also emphasized that some of the prisoners may already be registered voters because the majority of them are still incarcerated awaiting trial.

“If they are registered voters, they can’t be registered. What they will do is transfer their registration. Will they transfer their registration to the correctional centres for that reason? Will political parties be allowed to campaign inside the correctional centres? This is a matter that we need to advise the commission,” Mr Yakubu further explained.

Raising further queries, the INEC chief said, “Will observers and the media be allowed access to the correctional centres on election day so that the process is really transparent? Will INEC officials be granted access to the correctional centres for voter education? This is a matter that we need to discuss.”

Additionally, he questioned if elections would be held in each of the 218 federal prisons that house offenders nationally.

“Or there are some correctional centres where this process can start instead of over 218. We understand that some of the correctional centers are not holding inmates at present. So will the process be allowed to cover all the 218 centres?” said Mr Yakubu. “So these are some of the issues that we need to carefully discuss and resolve before a decision is taken.”

(NAN)

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Adoga Stephen
Adoga Stephen is a trained journalist, researcher, creative writer and freelancer. He studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State University of Science and Technology (then Laspotech) and acquired requisite skills for the practice of journalism, a profession he has been practicing since 2016.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been petitioned by the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to provide jail inmates the right to vote, but this has alarmed INEC.

Haliru Nababa, the NCoS comptroller-general, made the statement while leading management on a visit to the INEC headquarters in Abuja.

In accordance with a recent court ruling, Mr. Nababa said the meeting with INEC was to work out the details for the inmates to vote in the 2023 elections. He was represented by Assistant Comptroller-General Daniel Odharo.

“The court recently gave a judgment in favour of inmates voting in elections. The modalities to meet the process need to be worked out and so we need to be here to discuss with INEC to find out how this process can be achieved,” Mr Nababa said.

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, stated that the organization was dedicated to inclusivity, which included the rights of prisoners to cast ballots in elections.

He mentioned South Africa and Kenya as two African nations that grant prisoners these rights, but he also made notice of several important considerations.

READ MORE: RCCG: Adeboye Didn’t Meet Tinubu, Endorse Any Candidate

“Let me start with the legal framework. Section 12(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 as a voter is conferred. Number one, the prospective registrant must be a Nigerian citizen,” Mr Yakubu explained. “Number two, he or she must be 18 at least. Number three, he or she must originate, reside or work in the local government or ward covered by the registration center or the point of registration.”

The INEC chief further stated, “Number four, that citizens of Nigeria must present himself or herself to the registration officer for registration as a voter. 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. So this is one area that we need to discuss so that we know the categories of inmates that will exercise the right to vote.”

He maintained that INEC would want to maintain transparency in its process “because everything that we do in the commission, particularly when it comes to the rights of citizens to vote, must be done transparently.”

Mr. Yakubu questioned if voting would take place inside or outside the institution.

Mr. Yakubu also emphasized that some of the prisoners may already be registered voters because the majority of them are still incarcerated awaiting trial.

“If they are registered voters, they can’t be registered. What they will do is transfer their registration. Will they transfer their registration to the correctional centres for that reason? Will political parties be allowed to campaign inside the correctional centres? This is a matter that we need to advise the commission,” Mr Yakubu further explained.

Raising further queries, the INEC chief said, “Will observers and the media be allowed access to the correctional centres on election day so that the process is really transparent? Will INEC officials be granted access to the correctional centres for voter education? This is a matter that we need to discuss.”

Additionally, he questioned if elections would be held in each of the 218 federal prisons that house offenders nationally.

“Or there are some correctional centres where this process can start instead of over 218. We understand that some of the correctional centers are not holding inmates at present. So will the process be allowed to cover all the 218 centres?” said Mr Yakubu. “So these are some of the issues that we need to carefully discuss and resolve before a decision is taken.”

(NAN)

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