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NGO initiates project to enforce inmates’ voting rights

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A non-governmental organisation, the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO), said it had started a project titled, “Pollrite 23,” to enforce the electoral rights of inmates in Nigeria.

The Executive Director, CAPIO, Rev. Fr. Jude Isiguzo, said this while briefing the Controller-General, Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Mr Haliru Nababa, about the project on Thursday in Abuja.

Isiguzo said the project, which was implemented by CAPIO had funding support from Voice, a part of the Dialogue and Dissent agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He said this was aimed at strengthening the lobby and advocacy capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and representatives of the most marginalised and discriminated groups.

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According to him, the Pollrite 23 project will be piloted in three states including Enugu, Lagos and Abuja.

“The Pollrite 23 project aims to facilitate civic engagement among communities with low voters’ turnout, including inmates in Nigeria.

“This will help enforce the electoral right of inmates, create awareness and an enabling environment for inmates to vote.

“The project will enable stakeholders to create an electoral framework for inmates, which will set the ground for elections to hold in custodial centres,” he said.

He explained that the framework would ensure access to electoral resources, (including registration/card collection points, polling units, INEC help desks).

“It will also ensure voter education activities for inmates and wardens and other logistic requirements,” he said.

Isiguzo recalled that a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo had in 2014, upheld the rights of inmates to vote.

He, however, lamented that the inmates in Nigeria were still being denied their voting rights.

“But this can change with your collaboration alongside other relevant government agencies including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Federal Ministry of Interior, the Presidency and the NCoS,” Isiguzo noted.

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Responding, the Controller-General, Mr Haliru Nababa, acknowledged the numerous interventions of CAPIO, which had improved the wellbeing of inmates in the country.

Nababa appreciated the efforts of CAPIO in canvassing support for the speedy implementation of the NCoS ACT 2019.

He said this was critical in the drive to reposition the service and bring to reality the full benefits of the new legislation.

He, therefore, expressed the readiness of NCoS to work with CAPIO to ensure the success of the project.

“May I reiterate that NCoS places a very high premium on the robust partnership that has been established over the years with CAPIO.

“Our doors will remain wide open to accommodate any of your programmes or intervention that is of mutual benefits to NCoS and your organisation,” he said.

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