VSlaim: A social media user claims that the Nigerian government has started registering all inmates in Nigeria’s prisons for the upcoming general election and that all prisoners are required to register to obtain ID cards for them. elections, including those on death row.
Verdict: The results show that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is the only legal entity empowered to register Nigerian voters, does not capture detainees in the country’s prisons. Therefore, the claim is false.
On September 21, 2021, a Twitter user with the handle @ stancity44 posted two photos of what appeared to be Nigerian detainees to Twitter. While the first photo shows a group of men, some shirtless seated together, the second photo shows what appear to be prison inmates lined up in green uniforms as correctional staff stood by.
The image, along with a text, read: “Breaking News! The Nigerian government has finally started registering all detainees in the Nigerian penitentiary or prison for the upcoming elections. Prisoners are forced to register to get an ID card for the election, even those on death row. With over 4,000 followers, @ stancity44, who joined Twitter in April 2020, is a strong advocate for the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and shares numerous pro-IPOB messages on his account. This tweet was retweeted 44 times and liked 26 times.
Do Nigerian prisoners have the right to vote?
In 2018, a sitting appeals court in Benin upheld a 2014 judgment of a Federal High Court which granted prisoners the right to vote in elections in Nigeria. The appeals court further ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to register all prisoners on the electoral roll.
The ruling was granted in favor of the prayers of five detainees requesting an order requiring INEC to provide for the registration of all prisoners in Nigeria on the voters list and full opportunity for them to vote in the 2019 elections. , Judge S. Oseji who delivered the judgment did not order INEC to contact the Nigeria Prisons Service to provide polling stations inside the country’s prisons, as requested by the appellants. .
This journalist contacted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which, according to Article 10 (1) of the Election Law of 2010, is the legal entity supported by law to register all persons qualified to be registered on the lists. election. When contacted, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Officer (CPS) of INEC President Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said INEC does not capture detainees for continuous recording. of voters (CVR). “To this day (September 22, 2021), I am also unaware of a commission decision to do so before the 2023 general election,” Oyekanmi said.
Dubawa also contacted sources from Nigerian Corrections and found that authorities were in fact registering detainees for the National Identification Number (NIN). There was, however, no mention of an ongoing voter registration at the correctional facility.
Corrections Comptroller Public Relations Officer Francis Enobore did not answer multiple calls on his phone when contacted or respond to a text message on the matter. However, Kaduna Correctional Center PRO Daniel Wadai said there was no official communication to register inmates in the state and therefore was not aware of any such claim.
Dubawa noted that the images used to accompany the text are popular online images that have been used repeatedly by Nigerian media organizations and bloggers to depict the condition of detainees or to accompany stories about detainees in the country. Using Yandex reverse image search, it was revealed that the photo of the shirtless inmates first appeared online in 2013 in a story describing the condition of inmates in Nigeria. The second photo is credited to the Daily Trust newspapers and it is a photo of 19 of the 28 original suspects on trial for the alleged murder of retired Major-General Idris Alkali in 2018. The photo was taken while the suspects were driven to a prison vehicle after their case was heard by the Plateau State High Court in Jos.
According to information gathered from INEC and the Nigerian Correctional Service, detainees are currently not being registered to vote for the next general elections scheduled for 2023.
The researcher produced this fact-check as part of the Dubawa Fellowship 2020 in partnership with the Daily Trust newspapers to facilitate the ethics of truth in journalism and improve media literacy in the country.