ADVOCACY FOR THE SUPPORT OF PRISONERS AND INDIGENTS RIGHTS (ASPIR) began as a burden which the Director Cecilia Joshua Tuwan had concerning the pathetic condition of prisoners in Nigeria Prisons, where some will be kept without trial for as long as 2, 3, 4, up to even 10 years and above. This usually happened due to the poverty stricken nature of the prisoner who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get him on bail nor to defend him on trial. Indigents in the society are being oppressed by those that feel they have the instruments of coercion or most privileged or more exposed in the society, their oppressors will even take possession of the properties of indigents and boast to them that they can do nothing, since the indigents have no influence or economic strength to hire a lawyer. Indigents are mostly uneducated and their children grow up to be the same since their parents cannot sent them to school due to poverty, therefore the cycle of oppression continues.
The vision came to her by the inspiration in the Bible verse, which states thus, “open your mouth, judge righteously defend the right of the poor and needy”… proverb 31: 8-9.
This instruction in proverb 31: 8-9 opened her heart to the need in our prisons, police stations, Young Peoples Home (where the under aged suspects are kept) It is a fact that the number of prisoners under awaiting trial in prison, Young Peoples Home and people in police detention are more in number than the persons under trial and those convicted and are serving their terms.
Those that are convicted for offences that have options of fine spent long jail terms which would have been avoided if they could afford to pay their fines. The longer an inmate spent in prison, Young Peoples Home and police stations, the more criminal tendency the person develop as a result of what the person see, hear or experience.
This burden came while she was in law school; she decided that with the help of God she will support, represent and defend the rights of prisoners and indigents in future when she has reasonable resources.
When the Director completed law school she did private practice for 3 years and worked as a prosecutor with the Ministry of Justice Plateau State Nigeria from 2006, then ASPIR begin operation where the Director was using part of her monthly salary to aid a volunteering lawyer to represent prisoners and indigents in court and otherwise. In the process, Individuals and some churches became involved by supporting her with donations, these lead to the legal registration of ASPIR in 2008 with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with the registration number 25252.
In 2009 she withdrew her services with the State Ministry of Justice as a prosecutor to be fully involved in ASPIR. ASPIR staffs are mostly volunteers because of the inability to pay salaries; by the grace of God as the funds improve we shall have permanent employees.
The Board of Trustees is the highest policy making organ. It provides direction and focus for the organization. The Executive Director is responsible for the day to day operations of the organization. ASPIR mobilizes Churches, Organizations and individuals to be involved in supporting ASPIR.
ASPIR administrative costs are paid from contributions to our general fund. Our Executive Director / funder and Volunteers raise all or part of their own personal support from friends and family members, receiving no wages from ASPIR. Our Volunteers could use their gifts and talents to earn more working elsewhere, but they feel called to serve in ministry. ASPIR trustees, concerned about how salaries of the Executive Director/ funder and allowance of our Volunteers are not paid historically, decided that some amount be paid when funds are available in the ASPIR general funds. We believe that trust is BUILD.
The trustees and staff members of ASPIR are committed to financial integrity and transparency. To that end, any ASPIR donor may which to request for our financial reports or audited reports, as they reveal key financial information of interest to donors regarding program, advertising and administrative expenses, as well as salaries. ASPIR core principles are that we will never exploit the poor whom we strive to serve. For that reason, we've developed many focused funds that carry a guarantee that 100% of what is given to those funds is sent to meet pressing needs that meet each fund's criteria. Nothing is removed for administrative expenses.