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INEC to allow prisoners vote during elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders has adopted the draft framework on inmates voting rights developed by Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organisationnon Thursday.

This draft framework was accept by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, amongst other stakeholders in Abuja during a one-day validation workshop organised by CAPIO.

The INEC chairman represented by his Special Assistant, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, said that the commission was moving the country forward by adopting the draft framework for inmates to vote. He said that the framework was not a law but a guide to assist stakeholders and enable inmates in custodial centers to cast their votes.

Yakubu said that the draft contained suggestions for the National Assembly to include in the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act. According to him, the commission is committed to ensuring that inmates are given the right to vote.

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“This 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 rights 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.

Also, the Controller Planning, Research and Statistics at the Nigeria Correctional Service, Olatunbosun Ajibogun, said the adoption of the draft document was a right step in the right direction.

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He stated that the draft framework was put together by professionals based on the perspective of NCoS.

“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 did their best,’’ he said.

The Executive Director of CAPIO, Rev. Fr. Jude Isiquzo, had earlier 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.

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“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.

It was futher stated that the stakeholders agreed to set up a committee to review the document and come up with the final framework capturing all the ideas and suggestions made during the validation workshop.

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