Prisoners In Nigeria Have Right To Vote In All Elections

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A Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, has held that
prisoners in Nigerian prisons have the right to vote in all
elections conducted in the country.
Justice Mohammed Lima, who made the ruling in a suit by
Victor Emenuwe, Onome Inaye, Kabiru Abu, Osagie
Iyekepolor, Modugu Odion (for and on behalf of inmates of
Nigeria Prisons), against the Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, and the Controller-General of Nigeria
Prisons Service, also directed the defendants to ensure that
the applicants were not disenfranchised.
The plaintiffs had, in the suit, asked the court to determine
“whether, having regards to the provisions of section 25 of
the 1999 Constitution, as amended in 2011,and section 12
(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the plaintiffs are not entitled to
be registered as voters by INEC.”
They had also prayed the court to determine, whether having
regard to the provisions of Section 77 (2) of the 1999
Constitution and Section 12 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the
plaintiffs were not entitled to cast their votes at any election
in the country.
They had also asked the court to determine whether the
failure of INEC to make registration and voting provisions for
the inmates in the custody of Nigerian prisons does not
constitute an infringement on their rights as citizens of
Nigeria as enshrined in section 14 (1) (2) (a) (b), section 17
(2) (a), section 24 (b), (c),section 39 of the 1999 constitution
and Article 13 (1) and Article 20 (1) of the African Charter on
Human and People’s Rights.
In his judgment, Justice Lima, said: “Act byINEC to deny
inmates the right to vote is unconstitutional, illegal, irregular,
unlawful,null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The defendants do not have the constitutional right to deny
the claimants their voting rights.“Being an inmate is not an
offence that impedes their registration and voting right under
section 24 of the Electoral Act; and that the exclusion of
inmates in elections conducted in Nigeria is illegal and ultra
vires.”

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