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INEC, stakeholders draft voting rights framework for inmates

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders on Thursday adopted the draft framework on voting rights of inmates. 

Developed by Carmelites Prisoners’ Interest Organisation (CAPIO), the framework was drafted during a one-day validation workshop organised in Abuja.

Mahmood Yakubu, chair of INEC, who was represented at the workshop by Mohammed Kuna, his special assistant, said the commission was moving the country forward by adopting the draft framework.

He said the framework was not a law but a guide to assist stakeholders and enable inmates in custodial centres to cast their votes.

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The INEC chair said the draft contained suggestions for the national assembly to include in the proposed amendment of the electoral act.

“This is what is happening across the world and I don’t think we should be different as far as democracy is concerned,” NAN quoted Yakubu as saying.

“The commission is very much interested and committed to seeing inmates vote in Nigeria, because this is a human rights issue.”

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He, however, said it is important to think hard about 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 will be submitted after undergoing critical appraisal.

Olatunbosun Ajibogun, the controller, planning, research and statistics at the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), said the adoption of the draft document was a step in the right direction.

Ajibogun said the draft framework was put together by professionals, based on NCoS’ perspective.

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“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 actually did their best,” he said.

Earlier, Jude Isiquzo, CAPIO executive director, welcomed the adoption of the document by INEC and other stakeholders.

“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 centres are well protected,” he said.

“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 inmates to vote in national elections.

“We are not going to relent until we see the end of it and inmates begin to vote.

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“We believe that it is possible and INEC can do that, because they have the right. IDPs in camps vote. Nothing stops inmates in custodial centres from also voting.”

The stakeholders agreed to set up a committee to review the document and come up with the final framework.

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