The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, is in support of moves to enforce inmates’ rights to participate in political activities, according to his aide.
Michael Anugwa, an Assistant Controller of Corrections (ACC) and the technical adviser on Corrections to Aregbesola disclosed this while speaking with journalists on the sideline of the planning meeting of the Pollrite 23 project.
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The Pollrite 23 project is aimed at facilitating civic engagement among communities with low voters’ turnout, including inmates in Nigeria.
The project will help enforce the electoral right of inmates, create awareness and an enabling environment for them to vote, according to the Executive Director of Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO), Rev Fr Jude Iziguzo.
ACC Anugwa said the minister had a passion for inmates’ welfare, especially women, adding that: “He is rightly disposed to inmates being given the rights to exercise their franchise of voting during an election.”
“The move by CAPIO to enshrine the rights for inmates to vote is in the right direction because the enabling laws do not remove the rights to vote from inmates because they are inmates.
“There are certain freedoms that they were denied but voting is not one of them. So, the inmates’ rights to vote must be encouraged by all and sundry.
“I will make a memo to the minister on this and strongly recommend that he partner with other stakeholders in the electioneering business so that the inmates will be accorded the rights to vote in future elections in Nigeria,” he added.
On his part, the Director-General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, while commending CAPIO for the initiative, pledged the support of his agency in enforcing the voting rights of inmates.
He also said NOA would help to get volunteers into the project.
Rev Fr Isiguzo said the Pollrite 23 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 project is being piloted in three states of Enugu, Lagos and Abuja.
Other stakeholders present at the planning meeting held at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in Abuja are representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Information, NHRC, Independent National Electoral Commission, among others.