Prisoners may vote in the 2019 general election following the judgement by the Court of Appeal, Benin Division, that they have the right to vote.
The ruling was given on Friday in answer to the prayers of some prisoners who are insisting that despite their status, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, should have them included in the voter register.
The judgement is an affirmation of an earlier one given by the Federal High Court in 2014.
The appeal was filed by Victor Emenuwe, Onome Inaye, Kabiru Abu, Osagie Iyekekpolor and Modugu Odion.
The judgement was delivered by Justice S. Oseji on behalf of Justice Helen Ogunwumiju.
Following the judgement, the counsel to the appellant, President Aigbokhan of the Initiative for Rural Development, Information and Legal Advocacy, IRDILA, while speaking with journalists, said INEC should begin to register inmates to enable them participate in the coming election.
The counsel said that some of the prayers not granted by the court might be appealed.
That may include the refusal of the court to grant the declaration that INEC should liaise with the Nigeria Prison Service to create a registration centre in the different prisons across the country.
His words: “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.”