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20-year jail term for ballot-snatching, N40m fine for fraud — highlights of election offences bill

 

The senate has prescribed 20 years jail term for persons caught snatching ballot materials during elections.

The senate on Tuesday passed the bill establishing the Electoral Offences Commission.

The approval of the commission followed the consideration of the report of the senate committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The function of the commission includes investigating electoral offences, prosecution of electoral offenders, and maintaining records of all persons investigated and prosecuted.

Abubakar Kyari, senator representing Borno north, sponsored the bill in 2019.

Here are some key highlights of the bill:

Five years jail term or N10m fine for party officials who engage in electoral fraud

The senate in Clause 12 of the bill approved at least five years imprisonment or a fine of at least N10 million naira or both, for any officer or executives of any association or political party that engages in electoral fraud that contravenes the provisions of clauses 221, 225(1)(2)(3) and (4) and 227 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

10 years jail term for selling voter’s card

It also approved ten years imprisonment for any person who sells voter’s card, or in possession of any voter’s card bearing the name of another person, or prepares and prints a document or paper purporting to be a register of voters or a voter’s card.

10 years jail term for election officials who prevent voting

The senate also gave its nod to a term of at least ten years upon conviction for any election official who willfully prevents any person from voting at the polling station, willfully rejects or refuses to count any ballot paper validly cast, willfully counts any ballot paper not validly cast, gives false evidence or withholds evidence, and announces or declares a false result at an election. The upper chamber in Clause 20(2) approved at least fifteen years imprisonment for any judicial officer or officer of a court or tribunal who corruptly perverts electoral justice, during or after an election.

15 years for influencing outcome of elections

The senate also gave at least fifteen years jail term or N30 million naira fine for any security personnel or election official engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission or State Electoral Commission who attempts to influence the outcome of an election.

Six months imprisonment for disturbing the peace

In addition, any person found to disturb the public peace on Election Day by playing musical instruments, singing or holding an assembly where a polling station is located shall be guilty of breaching electoral peace and liable to six months imprisonment or a fine of at least N100,000 or both.

10 years jail term for defaming candidates

Also, any person acting for himself or on behalf of any organization or political party or candidate or his agent with the intention of prejudicing the result of an election, damage or defame, in any manner, the character of any candidate in an election or his family member by making, saying, printing, airing or publishing  in the print or electronic media false accusation on any matter shall be guilty of serious corrupt practice and liable on conviction to a term of at least ten years or a fine of ten million naira or both.

Five years jail term or N10m fine for soliciting votes

Any person soliciting or giving votes for or against any political party or candidate at an election, or found to affix campaign materials on any private house, public buildings or structures, or prints posters and banners without the name and address of the political party to which the candidate or person belongs contravenes sub-clause (1) to (5) and guilty of an offence and liable to at least five years or a fine of at least ten million naira, or both.

20 years jail term for snatching ballot boxes

Also, any candidate or agent who damages or snatches ballot boxes, ballot papers or election materials before, during and after an election without the permission of election official in charge of the polling station attracts at least twenty years imprisonment or a fine of at least forty million naira.

15 years jail term for influencing voters’ choice

The senate approved at least fifteen years imprisonment for any person who conveys voters to and from the poll; and three years imprisonment for any employee who directly or indirectly exerts undue influence on a voter in his employ.

10 years or N5m fine for hate speech

It also gave the nod for at least ten years imprisonment or at least twenty million naira fine or both for any person who uses hate speech to stir up ethnic, religious or racial hatred, social or political insecurity or violence against anyone or group of persons.

 

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