The Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) on Wednesday explained why it was difficult for inmates to cast their votes during the general elections, citing the absence of polling units as one of the challenges.
Mr Francis Enobore, the Public Relations Officer, NPS, gave the explanation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos. Enobore, a Deputy Controller of Prisons (DCP), said inmates had the right to participate in elections but that the necessary logistics had not been put in place.
He added that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not designated polling units in the prisons in spite of a court judgment which said that the inmates were eligible.
He said a court judgment by Justice Mohammed Suleiman of the Federal High Court, Benin, had in December 2014, given inmates the right to vote in elections.
Noting that the judgment had not been implemented, the prisons spokesman said “in the coming years, the INEC and the prison authorities will collaborate to actualise the order.
“The order was passed to INEC but for many reasons, to actualise it takes a lot of process and logistics.’
Enobore noted that during the registration for elections, no prison yard was designated as a polling unit. “For them to vote, you have to create a centre in the prisons for registration and for voting.
“To arrange the logistics from where they are serving to where they will vote outside the prison is near impossible for now, considering that some of them are hardened criminals.
“To safely guard them and produce a conducive environment for them to vote without jeopardising the process is necessary,’’ he said.
Enobore said that it was also possible that some of the inmates could have registered before being taken into custody, while others had not registered at all.
“INEC will work with the prison authorities to have a registration centre and a particular prison yard designated as a polling unit for them.
“During this exercise, there are security problems and to convey the inmates to where they will vote will be more challenging and that is why they are unable to vote for now,’’ he said.