Will we now start campaigning in prisons?
Nigerian prisons are known to give limited rights and privileges to the inmates. However, amidst the possible privileges the inmates stand to enjoy, it has not occurred to any Nigerian that there stands the privilege to vote in a national election.
This new development caught many Nigerians by surprise as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC announced to the press that the 2019 elections would also involve prisoners. He mentioned that the commission was looking at the possibility of creating polling units in Nigerian prisons to allow some categories of inmates to vote.
He, however, said certain categories of prisoners would not be allowed to vote depending on the nature of the crimes they committed.
This decision posits a question of credibility on the side of INEC and the prison officers. Nigerians opine that the votes from the prisons will account for the victory or defeat of a candidate in the elections hence it is important to ask if the imprisoned voters have been registered. What is the certainty of having the exact number of registered inmates tally with the number of votes to be counted after voting in the prison?
Are the inmates aware of the candidates of the election?
Many Nigerians and concerned politicians fear the risk of a candidate monopolizing a particular polling unit in a prison through territorial influence or favors to the prison officials. On the side of the electoral officers also, what is the safety of polling boot officers in the hands of inmates.
There have been several reports of attacks on prison wardens by inmates especially in the north, considering the nature of a voting process, what extra security measures are in place protect the INEC officials sent to conduct elections in prisons.