INEC Advances Significantly in its Major Effort to Enable Prison Inmates to Participate in Elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and various stakeholders on Thursday, embraced the draft framework on inmates’ voting rights crafted by Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO).

During a validation workshop in Abuja organized by CAPIO, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, alongside other stakeholders, endorsed the draft framework. Represented by his Special Assistant, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, Yakubu expressed the commission’s commitment to advancing the nation by adopting the draft framework for inmates’ voting. He clarified that the framework serves as a guide, not a law, aimed at aiding stakeholders and facilitating voting for inmates in custodial centers.

Yakubu highlighted that the draft includes suggestions for the National Assembly to consider for inclusion in the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act. He emphasized INEC’s dedication to ensuring that inmates are granted voting rights.

“This is what is happening across the world and I don’t think we should be different as far as democracy is concerned.

“The commission is very much interested and committed to see inmates vote in Nigeria, because this is a human right issue.”

He however said it was important to think hard on how to deal with the implications, adding that “the issue of voting where you are registered is key.’’ The INEC chairman assured that a final draft would be submitted after undergoing critical appraisal.

Olatunbosun Ajibogun, Controller Planning, Research, and Statistics at the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), said adopting the draft paper was a good move. The draft framework was created by experts with NCoS input, according to Ajibogun.

“That is what we have come here to do, we came here to validate all these ideas, the deliberations were very robust as all the stakeholders actually did their best,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Executive Director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr. Jude Isiquzo welcomed the adoption of the document by stakeholders including INEC.

“We are happy that INEC is happy with the work CAPIO has been doing and for also collaborating with them to see that the rights of inmates in correctional centers are well protected.

“There is still more work to be done. This is just the first thing which is a framework that has been developed.

“The National Assembly also needs to do some work again, and that is why we submitted a memorandum to the National Assembly to capture the rights of inmate to vote in national elections.

“We are not going to relent until we see the end of it and inmates begin to vote.

“We believe that it is possible and INEC can do that because they have the right.

“IDPs in camps vote, if they do, nothing stops inmates in custodial centers from also voting,” he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stakeholders have agreed to establish a committee to review the document and develop the final framework incorporating all the ideas and suggestions put forward during the validation workshop.

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