Today is going to be all about Prisoners! Yes, prisoners!!!! I have taken it upon myself today to be one of their voices and feel very cool with myself for standing up for the ‘under dogs’ in the society. We all know 2015 Elections are close, we can already feel it in the atmosphere with all the rallies, campaigns that are going on and well, the process of giving free bags of rice, making promises we pray won’t be empty have started and candidates that have had their asses whooped more than once in past elections have started declaring their intentions yet again. We are all making a move to exercise our rights by getting our voters card and some of us that don’t feel our votes will be useless yet again are registering to vote. Some of us are having debates over who we feel will win and some of us feel collecting many bags of rice is not as important as voting in someone that will deliver. Good for us people, good for us, but what of prisoners?
Nigeria is a democratic country, yes? No? Well, our constitution says we are even though we a times don’t act like we are. As a democratic country, we have a right to have a say in how the country is run and who runs it right? According to African Examiners there are about 75,000 inmates in the Nigeria’s 142 prisons and lock-ups, should their opinions not matter in a democratic country?
According to Prof Chidi Odinkalu, the chairman of the governing council of the national human rights commission, “the federal government should create a strategy to enable prisoners vote in elections as it’s part of their fundamental human right. It would even be easier to ensure free and fair voting in prisons since it’s difficult to inflate their votes and candidates cannot really give them rice to cook in prison and we know where they are and how many they are”. He further stated that “prisoners are less likely to re-offend if encouraged to participate in the civic process as part of their rehabilitation – The views and needs or prisoners should be reflected in our democratic system”
Really though, shouldn’t prisoners have a say over the formation of government policies and other issues affecting the nation since those not having capital punishment will someday be released into it?
I know we don’t exactly respect human rights here in Nigeria. I mean, the right to privacy is violated like it doesn’t exist. We have too many strangers and busy bodies poke nosing into your business like their lives depend on it. Topic for another day, but can’t these prisoners sue the government for violating their basic human right; right to expression and vote?
It’s obvious I’m finding it difficult to remain objective. This is a value laden topic and I really want to remain objective and just allow you guys express yourselves in the comment box. So I will put my fingers in my mouth now and stop typing so I can allow you do all the talking.
Wait, before I go, I want you to read a friend’s opinion and tell me If you agree with him:
“Prisoners did something wrong that put them in prison. During that time, they are out of the society and shouldn’t be able to participate in things going on outside. Besides, their vote won’t be informed as they were not there during the campaigns and do not really know what’s going on in the society. We should lay more emphasis on making sure the electoral committee is more effective and getting Nigerians outside the country to vote.”