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2023: FG considers granting voting rights to prison inmates

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The Federal Government is considering a proposal to grant voting rights to inmates during the 2023 general election.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, gave the hint while speaking during a meeting with a Non-Governmental Organisation, Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO), at his office in Abuja.

CAPIO had launched a project, Pollrite 23, which is aimed at helping to enforce the electoral rights of inmates in Nigeria.

The NGO was in the Permanent Secretary’s office to solicit the support of the ministry in actualising the project.

While speaking at the meeting, Belgore lamented that custodial centres across the country were being targeted by criminals, citing the attack on the Kabba custodial centre in the early hours of Monday as an example.

“Our facilities are targets. We are very worried and this may affect the way we grant access to people,” he added.

He, however, added that: “If there are no impediments, we will work with you to ensure that their [inmates] rights to vote are protected.”

The Executive Director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr Jude Isiguzo, had said the project is being funded by Voice, which is a part of the Dialogue and Dissent agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aimed at strengthening the lobby and advocacy capacity of civil society organisations and representatives of the most marginalised and discriminated groups.

He said the Pollrite 23 project would be piloted in three states of Enugu, Lagos and Abuja.

“The Pollrite 23 project aims to facilitate civic engagement among communities with low voters’ turnout, including inmates in Nigeria, which will help enforce the electoral right of inmates, create awareness, and an enabling environment for inmates to vote.”

“The project will work with stakeholders to create an electoral framework for inmates which will set the ground for elections to hold in custodial centres.

“The framework will ensure access to electoral resources, (including registration/card collection points, polling units, INEC helpdesks), voter education activities for inmates and wardens and other logistic requirements,” he said.

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