Senate makes case for prison inmates to vote during elections

By Peter Usman://

Senate has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to allow duly registered and eligible prison-electorate to exercise their franchise during all general elections in Nigeria.

This was even as it called on the Electoral body to determine the status of the inmates that are constitutionally and legally qualified to be registered as eligible voters and should vote at elections.

The upper legislative chamber also urged the Commission and relevant agencies to carry out voter’s enlightenment in all prisons in Nigeria, to educate the inmates of their rights and necessity to exercise their franchise in general elections.

It further called on INEC and all relevant agencies to update register of voters to take into account the prison population for the purpose of elections. 

The Senate also urged the Commission, INEC in collaboration with the Nigeria Correctional Service to locate Voting Centres at Custodial Centres across the country to be used for voting. 

These were resolutions reached by the Senate following a motion sponsored by Senator Patrick Abba Moro (PDP Benue South). 

The motion was entitled, “The prerogative of Prison Inmates to vote in general elections in Nigeria: statutory, Inalienable and non-negotiable.”

Senator Abba Moro, in his presentation, said, “The Senate Notes that certain human rights are inalienable and come naturally with the birth of the individual. One of such rights is that of citizenship. Incarceration though is one of the legal grounds of depriving a person or an offender in custody of certain rights, the right of citizenship cannot at any point be taken away;

He further noted that citizenship as encapsulated under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) comes with many defined rights and civic responsibilities, one of which is the right to vote in general elections;

According to him, “there are certain persons in prison custody awaiting trial, undergoing trial or awaiting conviction for one offence or the other whose right to vote and citizenship remain sacrosanct.”

He added that “being a prison inmate is not impediment to the prisoners’ registration and voting rights as enshrined under Section 24 of the Electoral Act, 2022 and denying prison inmates access to the electoral process constitutes an infringement of their rights as citizens of Nigeria as provided under Section 25 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which confirms the definition of who a Citizen is as well as Section 12(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) which spells out who qualifies to vote.”

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