OrderPaperToday– A bill to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission scaled second reading in the Senate on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno North) and co-sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) and Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), it seeks to proffer sanctions on offences committed before, during and after elections.

This will unburden the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and enable it focus on being an electoral body.

Below are highlights of the bill from Section 12 to 32 which capture offences and penalties in the proposed law.

Offences arising from violating existing electoral laws 

12.-( 1) Any person who violates or acts in breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act No. 6., 2010 (as amended) or any other law on or regarding elections in force in the Federation, or a part thereof shall be guilty and sanctioned to the extent of such violation or breach as prescribed in the relevant law or applicable law.

(2) All national officers or executives of any association or political party, as the case may be, that contravene the provision of Clauses 221, 225(1), (2), (3) and (4) and 227 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction to imprisonment for a term of at least five (5) years or to a fine of at least Ten Million Naira or both.

Offences by any person

13. Any person who

(l) knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on the National Register of Voters kept by the lndependent National Electoral Commission; or

(2) forges or fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any document for the purpose of nomination for an elective office, or delivers to the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission any document for the purpose of nomination for an elective office knowing it to be forged; or

(3) forges or counterfeits or fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any electoral document or the official perforation, stamp or mark on any electoral document issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission;

(4) without due authority supplies any electoral document issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission to any person; or

(5) sells or offers to sell any electoral document issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission to any person or purchases or offers to purchase any electoral document from any person; or

(6) not being a person entitled to be in possession of any electoral document which has been marked with any official perforation stamp or mark of the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral
Commission has any such electoral document In his possession; or

7) puts into any ballot box approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission ora State Electoral Commission anything other than the ballot paper which he is authorised by law to put in; or

(8) without due authority takes out of a polling station any electoral document or is found in possession of any electoral document outside a polling station;or

(9) without due authority destroys, takes, opens or otherwise interferes with any ballot box, ballot paper or packet of ballot papers or electoral documents in use or intended to be used for the purposes of an election;or

(10) without due authority prints any electoral document or ballot paper or what purports to be or is capable of being used as an electoral document or ballot paper at an election; or

(11) for the purposes of an election, manufactures, constructs. imports, has in his possession, supplies or uses, or causes to be manufactured, constructed, imported, supplied or used, any appliance, device or mechanism by which a ballot paper or results of elections may be extracted, affected or manipulated after having been deposited in a ballot box during the polling at any election; or

(12) not being authorised to do so under the provisions of this Bill, makes any mark on any ballot paper issued to any person other than to himself;

(13) votes at any election when he 15 not entitled to vote shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction. to imprisonment for a term not exceeding Fifteen (15) years.

Offences relating to register of voter’s cards etc.

14. Any person who

(a) without due authority makes, prepares or prints a document or paper purporting to be a register of voters or a voter’s card; or

(b) without due authority makes, prepares or prints any electoral document or purporting to be an electoral document; or

(c) not being a person authorised to be in possession of any voter’s card bearing the name of another person or which has not been written in the name of any person, has such voter’s card in his possession; or
(d) without due authority supplies a voter’s card to any person; or

(e)without the authority destroys, damages, defaces or makes any alteration on a voter‘s card; or

(f) sells or offers to sell any voter’s card to any person or purchases or offers to purchase any voter‘s card From any person:

(g) aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of or attempts to commit any of the offences referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f), (?) shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, in the case of an offence under paragraphs (a) to (’1), (?) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fifteen (15) years, and 1n the case of an offence under paragraph (g). to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.

Offences by election officials

15. Any person having any duty to perform pursuant to any written law relating to any election who-

(a) makes, in any record, return or other document which he is required to keep or make under such written law, any entry which he knows or has reasonable cause to believe to be false, or does not believe to be true;

(b) permits any person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe not to be a blind person or an incapacitated person to vote in the manner provided for blind persons or incapacitated persons, as the case may be; or

(c) refuses to permit any person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe to be a blind person or an incapacitated person to vote in the manner provided for blind persons or incapacitated persons. as the case may be;or

(d) willfully prevents any person from voting at the polling station at which he knows or has reasonable cause to believe such person is entitled to vote; or

(e) willfully rejects or refuses to count any ballot paper which he knows or has reasonable cause to believe is validly cast for any candidate in accordance with the provisions to such written law: or

(f) willfully counts any ballot paper as being cast for any candidate which he knows or has reasonable cause to believe was not validly cast for such candidate; or

(g) gives false evidence or withholds evidence at the trial of an election petition for the purpose of perverting the course of justice; or

(h) announces or declares a false result or a result which is false or he ought to know is false at an election; or

(i) is without reasonable cause guilty of any act or omission in breach of his official duty, shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least ten years.

Personation

16.-(1) A person who at an election applies for a ballot paper in the name of some other person, whether that name be that of a person living or dead, or of a fictitious person or who, having voted once at any such election, applies at the same election for a ballot paper in his own name, shall be guilty of the offence of personation and shall be liable, on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year.

(2) For the purposes of this clause, a person who has applied for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting in person shall be deemed to have voted.

Undue Influence

17. A person shall be guilty of the offence to undue influence who directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person acting on his behalf, makes use of or threatens any three. violence or restraint or any temporal or
spiritual in jury, damage or loss, or any fraudulent device. trick or deception or social boycott, calamity of any kind, fear or promise or by boast, coercion, blackmail or intimidation for the purpose of or on account of (a) inducing or compelling a person to give or refrain from giving his vote, whether to a particular candidate or not, at an election; or (b) otherwise impeding or preventing the free exercise of the franchise of a voter; or

(c) inducing or compelling a person to refrain from becoming a candidate or to withdraw if he has become a candidate; or (d) impeding or preventing a person from being nominated as a candidate for an election or from being registered as a voter.

Bribery

18. A person shall be guilty of the offence of bribery who Bribery (a) directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, gives, lends, or agrees to give or lend, or promises to procure or endeavour to procure, any money or valuable consideration to or for any voter, or to or for any person on behalf of any voter or to or for any other person, in order to induce any voter to give or refrain from giving his vote, whether to a particular candidate or not, or corruptly does any such act as aforesaid on account of such voter having given or refrained from giving his vote at any election, whether to a particular candidate or not; or

(b) directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, gives or procures, or-agrees to give or procure, or offers, promises, or promises to procure or to endeavor to procure, any office, place or employment to or for any voter, or to or for any person on behalf of any voter. or to or for any other person, in order to induce such voter to give or refrain from giving his vote, whether to a particular candidate or not, or corruptly does any such act as aforesaid on account of any vote having so given or refrained from giving his vote at any election; or

(c) directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement, or agreement as aforesaid to or for any person in order to induce such person to procure or endeavour to procure the election of any person, or the vote of any voter at any election; or

(d) upon or in consequence of any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement or agreement, procurement engages, promises of endeavours to procure, the election of any person, or the vote of any voter at an election; or

(c) advances or pays or causes to be paid any money to or to the use of, any other person with the intent that such money or any part thereof shall be expended in bribery at any election or who knowingly pays or causes to be paid any money to any person in discharge or repayment of any money wholly or in part expended in bribery at any such election; or

(f) being a voter, before or during any election directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, receives, agrees, or contracts for any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration, office, place or employment, for himself or for any other person, for giving or agreeing to give or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from giving his vote, whether to a particular candidate or not, at any such election; or

(g) after any election, directly or indirectly, by himself for by any other person on his behalf, receives any money or valuable consideration on account of any person having given or refrained from giving or having induced any other person to give or to refrain from giving, his vote, whether to a particular candidate or not, at any such election; or

(h) directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, on account of and as payment for voting or for having voted or for agreeing or having agreed to vote for any candidate at an election, or on account of and as payment for his having assisted or agreed to assist any candidate at an election, applies to such candidate, or to his agent or agents; for the gift or loan of any money or valuable consideration, or for the promise of the gift or loan of any money or valuable consideration or for any office. place or employment or for the promise of any office, place or employment; or

(i) directly or indirectly, by himself or by any person on his behalf, in order to induce any other person to agree to be nominated as a candidate or to refrain from becoming a candidate or to withdraw if he has become a candidate, gives or procures any office, place or employment. or agrees to give or procure or offers or promises to procure or to endeavor to procure any office, place or employment, to or for such other person, or gives or lends, or agrees to give or lend, or offers, or promises to procure or to endeavour to procure any money or valuable consideration to or for any person or to or for such other person, or to or for any person on behalf of such other person.

Punishment and incapacities for corrupt practice

19.-(1)A person who commits the offence of personation, undue influence or bribery corrupt practice in Clauses 18, 19 and 20 of this Bill respectively; or

(b) makes or publishes in print and electronic media including on the Internet, before or during any election, for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of any candidate, any false statement of the withdrawal of any other candidate at such election,

(c) or aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of or attempts to commit any such offence shall be guilty of corrupt practice and liable, on conviction, in the cases referred to in paragraph (a) of this clause, to imprisonment for a term of at least fifteen years, and in any other case in this clause, to imprisonment for a term of at least ten (10) years.

Corrupt pervasion of Electoral Justice

20.-( l) A judicial officer or officer of a Court or Tribunal shall be guilty of corruptly perverting Electoral Justice guilty of corruptly perverting electoral justice if before, during or after an election, he directly or indirectly receives or accepts for himself or for any other person or on behalf of other persons, any money, gift, loan, property, valuable consideration, office, place, employment or appointment, or a promise of personal enrichment for the purpose of giving, rendering, procuring or directing a judicial decision in favour of or against a particular, person or party in an election petition or any matter relating to an election conducted pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic 1999 (as amended), Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (as amended) or any other law regarding elections in force in the Federation or a part thereof.

(2) A judicial officer or officer of a Court or Tribunal who is guilty under sub-clause (1) of this clause shall be liable, on conviction to imprisonment for a term of at least twenty (20) years without an option of a fine.

Election official, security personnel not to cause influence

21.-(l) No person, including election official or security personnel, engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission for the conduct of an election shall, in the course of performing his official duties, perform or cause to be performed any act except the act of giving his vote for any candidate according to law, with an intention of making any particular candidate successful or unsuccessful in the election.

(2) Any person who commits an act in contravention of sub-clause (l) of this Clause shall be guilty of an offence of serious corrupt practice and liable, on conviction to imprisonment i or a term of at least fifteen (l5) years or a fine of at least Thirty Million Naira (N30.000.000). or both.

Prohibition on disturbing public peace

22.-(l) No person shall, from three (3) hours prior to the commencement of an election to the completion of the election on the day of an election, directly or indirectly disturb public peace by doing any of the following acts in the house, building or place where a polling station is located or in any private or public house, building or land in the neighbourhood thereof so as to cause obstruction to the election or to voters or to persons or election officials who are conducting the election at the polling station:

(a) Using loudspeakers, megaphones or similar devices,

(b) Playing musical instruments, singing and dancing, holding assembly or function of any kind whatsoever, making or causing to make commotion or manhandling or shouting.

(2)Any person who commits an act in contravention of sub-clause ( l ) of this Clause shall be guilty of an offence of breach or electoral peace and liable, on conviction to imprisonment for a term of at least six (6) months or a fine of at least One Hundred Thousand Naira (N 100,000), or both.

Prohibition on damaging of character

23.-(l) No person acting for himself or on behalf of any organisation or political party or candidate or his agent or other person shall, with an intention of prejudicing the result of any election, damage or defame, in any manner, the character of any candidate in an election or his family member by making, saying, printing, publishing, distributing, posting up, airing, or televising, or cause to be made, said, printed, published, distributed, posted up, aired or televised, before or during any election, any matter in the print or electronic media including radio, television, the Internet, online or social media, which he knows or believes to be false in relation to the personal character or conduct of the candidate or his family member or by making -false accusation on any matter in a manner likely to make others believe such matter to be true.

(2) Any person who commits an act in contravention of sub-clause (1) of this Clause shall be guilty of an offence of serious corrupt practice and liable, on conviction to imprisonment for a term of at least ten years or a Fine of at least Ten Million Naira.

Restriction on election campaigns

24.-(l) Election campaigns materials including posters, election campaign pamphlets, bills, advertisements etc. prepared for the purpose of campaigning in an election shall bear the name and address of the political party, aspirant, candidate or person to whom/which they belong.

(2) No person shall print, publish, distribute, post up, air or televise in print or electronic media including radio, television, the internet, online or social media as the case may be, or cause to be so printed, published, distributed, posted up, aired or televised; any electioneering campaign audio, video, or printed advertisement, handbill, placard or poster which refers to any election and which does not clearly or loudly bear upon its face or presentation the names and addresses of the political party, candidate or person getting them printed, published, distributed, posted up, aired or televised.

(3) No person shall affix, or cause to be affixed, any election campaign material including posters, pamphlets, bills‘ advertisements or such papers to, or write, ’or’ cause to be written on, any religious, archaeological or historical buildings, monuments or structures.

(4) No person shall affix, or cause to be affixed, any election campaign materials including posters, pamphlets, bills, advertisements or such papers to, or write, or cause to be written on any private house, shop, wall or other structure without the permission of the owner thereof.

(5) No person shall, with the object of soliciting or giving votes for against any political party or candidate at an election, convene or organise meetings, processions or raise slogans and campaign in any other manner within an election area during the period from 24 hours prior to the day of the election to the end of the election.

(6) Any person who commits an act in contravention of sub-clause (1) to (5) of this clause shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least five (5) years or a fine of at least ten million naira or both.

Prohibition on campaign against national interest

25.-(1) No person shall propagate or cause to be propagated anything or information that:

(a) undermines or is capable of undermining the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, or unity of the Federation;

(b) promotes or is capable of promoting feeling of enmity or on the basis of any religion, community, caste, tribe, language or territorial region:

(c) causes or is capable of causing people to vote on the basis of any religion, community, caste, tribe, language or territorial region.

(2) Any person who commits an act in contravention of sub clause (I) of this clause shall be guilty of a serious electoral offence and liable on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least twenty (20) years without an option of a fine.

Prohibition on obstructing votes counting or other acts inhibiting electoral due process

26.-(l) No candidate or agent of his or any other person shall grant loot, damage or destroy in any manner ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material before, during or after an election, or take or attempt to take or cause to be taken ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material before, during or after an election without the permission of election official in charge of the election at a polling station or election official in charge of the electoral materials or abet to the commission of such act or cause obstruction of any kind in any manner to any other acts relating to an election.

(2) Any person who commits any act in contravention of subclause (l) of this clause shall be guilty of an electoral offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of at least twenty (20) years or a fine of at least forty million naira (N40,000,000).

Certain expenditure

27.-( I) No payment or contract for payment shall, for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at any election, be made

(a) on account of the conveyance of voters to or from the poll, whether for the hiring of vehicles, vessels or animals of transport of any kind whatsoever, or for railway fares, or otherwise; or

(b) to or with a voter on account of the use of any house, land, building, or premises for the exhibition of any address, bill, or notice, or account of the exhibition of any address, bill or notice.

(2) Subject to such exception as may be allowed in pursuance of this Bill, if any payment or contract for payment is knowingly made in contravention of this clause either before, during, or after an election, the person making such payment or contract shall be guilty of an illegal practice, and any person receiving such payment or being a party to any such contract, in contravention of this clause, shall also be guilty of an illegal practice.

(3) A person shall not let, lend, or employ for the purpose of conveyance of voters to and from the poll any vehicle, vessel or animal of transport of any kind whatsoever which he keeps or uses for the purpose of letting out for hire, and if he lets, lends, or employs such vehicle, vessel or animal of transport knowing that it is intended to be used for the conveyance of voters to and from the poll he shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

(4) A person shall not hire, borrow or use for the purpose of conveyance of voters to and from the poll any vehicle, vessel or animal of conveyance of voters to and from the poll any vehicle, vessel of animal of transport of any kind whatsoever which he knows the owner thereof is 4 prohibited by subclause (3) of this clause to let lend or employ for that 5 purpose, and if he does so he shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

(5) Nothing in sub-clause (3) or (4) of this clause shall prevent a vehicle, vessel or animal of transport of any kind being let to or hired, employed, or used by a voter or several voters at their joint cost for the purpose of being conveyed to or from the poll.

(6) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this clause

(a) where it is the ordinary business of a voter as an advertising agent to exhibit for payment bills and advertisements, a payment to or contract with such voter, if made in the ordinary course of business, shall not be deemed to be an illegal practice within the meaning of this clause;

(b) where voters are unable at an election to reach their polling stations from their place of residence without crossing the sea or a branch or arm thereof or a river, means may be provided for conveying such voters to their polling stations, or to enable them to cross in order to reach their polling stations.

PROVIDED that such means of conveyance shall be made available equally to all such voters who wish to avail themselves thereof.

(7) A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of, commits or attempts to commit any illegal practice under this clause shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least 15 years.

Employers to allow employees reasonable period for voting

28 (1) Every employer shall on polling day allow to every voter in his employ a reasonable period for voting and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such voter or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during such period.

(2) Any employer who directly or indirectly refuses or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other manner, interferes with the granting to any voter in his employ, of a reasonable period for voting, as provided in this clause, shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine of at least Six Million Naira (N6,000,000) or to imprisonment for a term of least three (3) years, or both.

(3) The provisions of this clause shall not extend to (a) members of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force, State Security Service, the Nigerian Prisons service and all Federal Government security and law enforcement agencies;

(b) any employee who at the election in question is acting as an election official under the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (as amended) or any electoral law in force in the Federation or a part thereof; and

(c) other employees in reasonably essential public or private service


Limitation of political propaganda on polling day

29. -(1)No person shall furnish or supply any musical instrument or loud speaker to any person with intent that it shall be used by any person in any way or used in or upon vessels, animals, motor cars, trucks, or other vehicles as or for the purpose of political propaganda on polling day and no person shall with any such intent use himself or use in or upon any vessel animal, motor car, truck, or other vehicle any such musical instrument or loud speaker on polling day.

(2)Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of sub-clause (1) of this clause shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or at least one million naira or to imprisonment for a term of at least one year or both.

Offences relating to false information

30 (1) Any person who is in the discharge of his duty under this bill gives information which is false in any material particular to a police officer or any person who is to take decision or do any other act in relation thereto commits an offence under this bill and the onus shall be on him to prove that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence having regards to the nature of function and circumstances.

(2) The penalty for the offence under subclause ( l ) of this clause shall be imprisonment for a term of at least (2) years and not more than Three (3)years.

PROVIDED that where the offender is a public officer the penalty shall be imprisonment for a term of least Three (3) years and not more than Five (5)years.

Offences relating to Election expenses

31.-(l) Every candidate at an election shall submit a statement of election expenses to the Commission at most Six (6) months after the election. The statement shall be in a form to be prescribed by the Commission from time
to time.

(2) A candidate at an election who contravenes the provisions of subclause (l) of this clause shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least six (6) months and a fine equal to the amount of money specified in the relevant law as the maximum for election expenses for the particular elective office in question.

(3) A statement of the election expenses submitted under subclause (1) of this clause may be audited by an auditor appointed by the Commission for compliance or otherwise with the law.

(4)A candidate at an election shall be guilty of an offence if his

(a) statement of election expenses is false; or (b) election expenses are substantially above the ceiling stipulated by law for the elective office in question, and shall in these respects be liable, on conviction, to a fine which shall not exceed the amount of money stipulated.

(5) Subject to the provisions of clause 174 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I999 (as amended) (on the power of the Attorney- General of the Federation to institute, continue, takeover or discontinue criminal proceedings against any person in any court of law) where a candidate contravenes the provisions of subclause (l) of this clause or is deemed guilty under subclause (4) of this clause the Commission may compound these ottences by imposing a fine on, and accepting same from, the candidate:

PROVIDED that the fine shall not exceed the ceiling specified for election expenses for the particular office in question.

(6) Prior to issuing an order for a fine on a candidate under -subclause (5) of this clause, the Commission shall give a reasonable opportunity to the concerned person to defend himself and the Commission shall not issue any such order if the candidate’s failure to submit’ the statement of election expenses is reasonably justified.

(7) All moneys received by the Commission under the provisions of subclause (5) of this clause shall be paid into the consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.


Prohibition on Hate Speech

32 (1) A person who, in the course of politics or elections, or directs the use of threatening words, behaviour or action, or displays or directs the display of any written material which is threatening or incites violence, is guilty of an offence if-

(a) he/she intends thereby to stir up ethnic, religious, or racial hatred, social or political insecurity or violence against anyone or group of persons;or

(b) having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic, religious, or racial hatred or social or political insecurity or violence is likely to be stirred up thereby;

PROVIDED that nothing in this subclause shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different belief system to cease practising their belief system. Subjective descriptions of a person’s actions or behaviour, however abhorrent, crass or objectionable, may not be considered and attempt to spread hate unless the motive is clearly defined as such.

(2) Any person who commits offence under subclause (I) of this clause shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term at least ten years are fine of at least forty million naira or both.

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