2023: INEC to collaborate with NGO on inmates’ voting rights

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would collaborate with Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO) on the Inmates rights to vote in 2023 election.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this during a courtesy visit of CAPIO, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Yakubu, who was represented by the National Commissioner in charge of Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC), Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, commended the laudable projects by the NGO.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Pollrite 23 project is aimed at facilitating civic engagement among communities with low voters’ turnout, including inmates in Nigeria.

CAPIO had organised the planning meeting with relevant stakeholders to find a way to achieve the project.

Yakubu said that the aim of ensuring that the rights of citizens were protected as regards participation in electoral process were something that was part of the commission’s vision.

He said that there was an amendment to the vision of the commission in the strategic plan for 2022 to 2026, saying that the amendment was inclusivity.

According to him, the organisation has always maintained that it wants to give Nigerians free, fair, credible and sustainable election, adding that we are now changing it to include “inclusive election”.

“And that inclusivity is not limited as we regard the inmates also as disadvantaged. So, the inclusion has to do with the disadvantaged groups.

“Hitherto, we have been concentrating on People with Disabilities (PWDs), gender and even the youths. We have also been having a thought about how the inmates will be incorporated into the process,” he said.

Yakubu noted that the commission knew that some categories of inmates would not however, benefit from the project or even getting registered as voters.

“But I want to assure you that this visit will make the commission to ensure that action is taken. We have been thinking of some of the encumbrances in achieving this.

“But we can follow the pattern of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) where we have two categories which are the Inter-state and Intra-state.

“If you are displaced within your state, then you can take part in all elections, and if you are displaced and you have to move to another state, you can take part in only the presidential election.

“So that kind of thing can be explored for the inmates at least they will be able to participate in the electoral process,” he said.

The Chairman promised that the commission would take the initiative as requested, assuring that INEC would collaborate with the NGO.

“This is necessary so that at the end of the day, we will be able to achieve our own vision, which is to make sure that elections are inclusive and that all categories of Nigerians are given the opportunity of participating in the electoral process,” he said.

Earlier, the executive director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr. Jude Isiguzo, said that the project would help enforce the electoral rights of inmates, create awareness and an enabling environment for them to vote.

Isiguzo said that the project would enable stakeholders to create an electoral framework for inmates, which would set the ground for elections to hold in custodial centres.

According to him, the framework will ensure access to electoral resources, including registration/card collection points, polling units, and INEC help desks.

“To enable us achieve the results of the project, we seek your full support via participation in project activities when invited,” he said. (NAN)