2019: Court Of Appeal Orders INEC To Register Inmates

2019: Court Of Appeal Orders INEC To Register Inmates

On Friday, court of Appeal Benin Division granted the prayers of five
prisoners seeking the order of the court to direct the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include all prisoners in the
voter register.  

Justice S. Oseji, delivered the lead judgment on behalf of Justice
Helen Ogunwumiju.  The appeal was filed by five inmates on behalf of
other inmates in Nigerian prisons.  Those that filed the appeal are
Victor Emenuwe, Onome Inaye, Kabiru Abu, Osagie Iyekekpolor and Modugu

The judgment affirmed the judgment granted by a Federal High Court in
2014, that prisoners can vote.  However, Oseji did not grant a
declaration that INEC liaise with the Nigeria Prison Service to create a
registration centre at various prisons across the country.

Speaking to newsmen after the judgment, Counsel to the appellant,
President Aigbokhan of the Initiative for Rural Development, Information
and Legal Advocacy (IRDILA), urged INEC to commence immediate
registration of inmates across the country for them to participate in
next year’s election.  Aigbokhan said they would appeal some aspects of
the decision of the Court of Appeal.  

According to him, “Prison inmates have their community. Polling units
should be located there. We believe they have a right to vote in an
election so as to decide those who ultimately decide their future. When
franchise is given to them, attention will be focused there. Their
situation and health conditions will be improved.

In 2014, the Federal High Court granted our prayers that prisoners
can vote but narrowed it to the four applicants in the suit even though
it was stated there that those applicants were representing other
inmates. We went to the Court of Appeal and the court agreed that the
judgement represented all inmates in the country.

That INEC should with immediate effect collate the names of inmates
and allow them to vote in 2019.  “The judgment disagreed that INEC
should create polling units inside the prison. In 2015, the inmates were
over 550,000. All INEC needs to do is to update their voter register
and liaise with NGO as volunteers to help them. It is victory for
Nigeria’s democracy.”