The Ministry of Interior on Friday said it would support the project “Pollrite 23” to enforce the right of inmates to participate in political activities in Nigeria.
The technical adviser to the Minister of Interior on Corrections, Michael Anugwa, said this while speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the planning meeting of the Pollrite 23 project in Abuja.
The Pollrite 23 project is aimed at facilitating civic engagement among communities with low voters’ turnout, including inmates in Nigeria.
Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organisations, CAPIO, had organised the planning meeting with relevant stakeholders to find a way to achieve the project.
Mr Anugwa said the minister, Rauf Aregbesola, had a passion for inmates’ welfare, especially women.
He said the minister believed that inmates should be given the right to exercise their franchise during elections.
According to him, the move by CAPIO to enshrine the right of inmates to vote is in the right direction.
“This is so, because the enabling laws do not remove the right to vote from inmates because they are inmates.
“There are certain freedoms that they are denied but voting is not one of them. So, the inmates’ right 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.
“This will help so that the inmates will be accorded the right to vote in future elections in our country,” he added.
The executive director, CAPIO, Rev Fr. Jude Isiguzo, said the project would help enforce the electoral right of inmates, create awareness and an enabling environment for them to vote.
Isiguzo said the project was being funded by Voice, which was a part of the Dialogue and Dissent agenda of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs aimed at strengthening the lobby and advocacy capacity of CSOs.
He said this also included representatives of the most marginalised and discriminated groups.
He added that the Pollrite 23 project was being piloted in three states namely Lagos, Abuja and Enugu.
On his part, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, commended CAPIO for the initiative, pledging the support of his agency in enforcing the voting rights of inmates.
Abari said the agency would help to get volunteers and spirited individuals to be involved in the project.
NAN reports that other stakeholders present at the planning meeting were representatives of Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Information, NHRC, NGOs, Independent National Electoral Commission, National Human Right Commission among others.