A Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, on Tuesday gave prisons inmates above the age of 18 in the country a clean bill of health to exercise their franchise in all elections.
The Court, presided over by Justice Mohammed Lima, which gave the ruling in a suit instituted by Victor Emenuwe, Onome Inaye, Kabiru Abu, Osagie Iyekepolor, Modugu Odion (for and on behalf of inmates of Nigeria Prisons).
The ruling was against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Controller-General of Nigeria Prisons Service, also directed the Defendants to ensure that the Applicants are not disenfranchised.
The Plaintiffs had in an amended Originating Summons, asked the Court to determine “whether having regards to the provisions of section 25 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended in 2011, and section 12 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the Plaintiffs are not entitled to be registered as voters by the 1st Defendants”;
In his judgment, Justice Lima declared that “any act by the 1st Defendant to deny inmates the right to vote is unconstitutional, illegal, irregular, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever; that the Defendants do not have the constitutional right to deny the claimants their voting rights; that 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, ultra vires and null and void.”