By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – THE Court of Appeal sitting in Bénin City has granted an appeal seeking to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include names of Nigerian citizens in prisons in the country in its voters register.
Prison inmate in a cell
But the Court did not say whether INEC should liaise with the Nigeria Prison Service or not to create registration centers at various prisons across the country.
The appeal was filed by five inmates on behalf of other inmates in Nigeria prisons across the country and they included Victor Emenuwe, Onome Inaye, Kabiru Abu, Osagie Iyekekpolor and Modugu Odion.
Justice S. Oseji who read the lead judgement on behalf of Justice Helen Ogunwumiju said the appellant could appeal the ruling.
Speaking to newsmen after the court ruling, 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 however said some parts of the decision of the Court of Appeal would be appealed.
According to him, “Prison inmates have their community. Polling units should be located there.
“One of our clients is the inmates in prisons. 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 represents all inmates in the country and that INEC should, with immediate effect collect the names of inmates and allow them to vote in 2019.
“The judgment has disagreed that INEC should create polling units inside the prison. In 2015, the inmates are over 550,000. All INEC needs to do is to update their voter register and liase with NGO as volunteers go help them. It is victory for Nigeria’s democracy.”