Senate Okays 20-Year Jail For Candidates Snatching Ballot Materials - Mackenzie Sky Blog

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Senate Okays 20-Year Jail For Candidates Snatching Ballot Materials

 Senates Passes New Electoral Offense Laws
On Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill to create the Electoral Offences Commission and a 20-year prison sentence for candidates caught snatching ballot materials.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission.

Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), the committee's chairman, stated in his presentation that the bill became necessary due to INEC's inability to prosecute electoral offenders in accordance with the provisions of sections 149 and 150(2) of the Electoral Act (as Amended).

According to him, as a result of electoral flaws in the system, the Justice Uwais Electoral Committee; Sheik Nurudeen Lemu Committee; and Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee were constituted.

The Senate during consideration of the INEC Committee report, approved the establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission.

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.

The upper chamber adopted the Committee’s recommendation of 15 years imprisonment for any person involved ballot box snatching, supplying voter’s card to persons without due authority, unauthorised printing of voters’ register, illegal printing of ballot paper or electoral document, and importation of any device or mechanism by which ballot paper or results of elections may be extracted, affected or manipulated, and voting at an election when he is not entitled to vote.

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.

The Senate also approved a sentence of at least ten years in prison for any election official who willfully prevents a person from voting at a polling station, willfully rejects or refuses to count any validly cast ballot paper, willfully counts any ballot paper that is not validly cast, gives false evidence or withholds evidence, and announces or declares a false election result.

The upper chamber in Clause 20(2) approved at least 15 years imprisonment for any judicial officer or officer of a court or tribunal who corruptly perverts electoral justice, during or after an election.

It also gave at least 15 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.

Furthermore, anyone detected disturbing the public peace on Election Day by playing musical instruments, singing, or convening an assembly near a polling station is guilty of breaching electoral peace and faces a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a fine of N100,000, or both.

Also, any person acting for himself or on behalf of any organisation 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 10 years or a fine of ten million naira or both.

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 10 million naira, or both.

The National Electoral Offences Commission Bill, 2021, prohibits any campaign against national interest.

It provides a 20-year jail term without option of fine for any person who propagates information that undermines the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, or unity of the federation.

Also, any candidate or agent who destroys or grabs ballot boxes, ballot papers, or election materials before, during, or after an election without the authorization of the polling station's election official faces at least 20 years in prison or a fine of at least forty million naira.

Any person who transports voters to and from the polls will face at least 15 years in prison, and any employee who directly or indirectly exerts undue influence on a voter in his employ will face three years in prison.

The upper chamber approved three years and not more than five years imprisonment for any person who provides false information in any material particular to a public officer.

Anyone who uses hate speech to incite ethnic, religious, or racial hatred, social or political insecurity, or violence against anyone or a group of people will face at least 10 years in prison or a fine of at least 20 million naira, or both.

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