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Electoral Offences And Penalties In Nigeria

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What are the electoral offences and penalties in Nigeria?

Any conduct – action or inaction which is prohibited by the Constitution or the Electoral Act and a breach of which attracts punishment, is called an electoral offence.

Electoral offences may be committed by INEC or Security Officials, Political Parties and their officials, Candidates, Observers, Journalists/Media Houses or the general public.

Listed in this article are some of the electoral offences prescribed by Nigerian Law. Anyone in breach of any of these provisions is liable to be arrested and charged to court and prosecuted by INEC after an investigation by the relevant Security Agencies.

To understand better what electoral offences and penalties in Nigeria are, let’s see the punishment for electoral malpractices n Nigeria.

See Also: How To Vote In Nigeria During Elections

Electoral Offences And Penalties

1. Voter Registration

Offences

• Registering more than once.

• Unlawful possession of a voter’s card, selling or buying of voters card

Penalty

A fine not exceeding ₦100,000 or imprisonment for one year or both.

Offences

• Giving false information in any application for registration as a voter

Penalty

A fine not exceeding ₦500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Offences

• hindering another person from registering as a voter

Penalty

A fine not exceeding ₦500,000 or five years imprisonment or both.

Offences

• Impersonating a registration official, carrying out registration of persons illegally or forging a registration card

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

2. Offences in Respect of Nomination

Offences

 (a) forging a nomination paper or result form;

(b) Wilfully defacing or destroying a nomination paper or result form;

(c) Delivering to an electoral officer a forged nomination paper or result

(d) Signs a nomination paper or result form as a candidate in more than one constituency at the same election;

Penalty

A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) of this section is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.

3. Offences in Relation to Ballot Papers and Ballot Boxes

Offences

a. Unlawful possession of a ballot paper

b. Illegal printing of ballot papers

c. Illegal production or importation of ballot boxes.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦50,000,000 or for a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years or both.

4. Disorderly Behaviour at Political Meetings

Offences

To act in a disorderly manner or be in possession of an offensive weapon at a political meeting.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both.

5. Improper Use of Voter Card

Offences

Unlawful giving of a voter’s card to some other person for use at an election other than, an officer appointed to do so.

Being in possession of more than one voter’s card.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both.

6. Improper Use of Vehicles

Offences

Conveying any person to a registration office or to a polling unit by government vehicle or boat, except in respect of a person who is entitled to use such vehicle or boat

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000.00 or imprisonment for six months or both.

7. Impersonation and Voting when not Qualified

Offences

A person voting or attempting to vote at an election when he/she is not qualified, or inducing a person to vote at an election knowing that such person is not qualified.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

8. Dereliction of Duty/ False result

Offences

A Polling Officer failing to report on time or to discharge his duties on an election day without lawful excuse

Penalty

On conviction to a maximum fine of ₦500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Offences

Announces or publishing a false election result

Penalty

36 months imprisonment.

9. Announces or publishes a false election result

Offences

Returning Officer or Collation Officer or the person delivering a false certificate of return.

Penalty

Three years imprisonment without an option of a fine.

10. Bribery and Conspiracy: Vote Buying

Offences

a. Paying money to any other person for bribery at any election.

Penalty

On conviction to a maximum fine of ₦500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Offences

b. Receiving any money or gift, for voting or refraining from voting at any election.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both

11. Requirement of Secrecy in Voting

Offences

a. Not maintaining the secrecy of voting at a polling unit.

b. Interfering with a voter casting his vote

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.

12. Wrongful Voting and False Statements

Offences

a. Illegal voting at an election

b. Publishing any statement of the withdrawal of a candidate or about his personal character.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.

13. Voting by Unregistered Persons

Offences

To bring into a polling unit during an election a voter’s card issued to another person

Penalty

A fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.

14. Disorderly Conducts at Elections

Offences

Inciting others to act in a disorderly manner

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.

Offences

Within a distance of 300 meters of a polling unit:

a. Canvassing for votes, persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate or being in possession of any offensive weapon, wearing or displaying any notice, symbol, photograph or party card

b. Using any vehicle bearing the colour or symbol of a political, loitering around a polling unit blaring a siren.

Penalty

A fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months.

Offences

Snatching or destruction of any election material

Penalty

Twenty-four months imprisonment.

15. Undue Influence

Offences

Accepting money or any other inducement during an election.

Penalty

A fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.

16. Threatening

Offences

a. Threatening a person with violence or injury to compel that person to vote or refrain from voting

b. Preventing any political aspirant from free use of the media vehicles, mobilization of political support and campaign at an election;

Penalty

A fine of ₦1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of three years.

17. Campaign and Campaign Finance

Offences

Unlawful possession of a weapon at a political rally or voting centre

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦2,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of two years or both.

Offences

Threatening any person with violence during any political campaign

Penalty

In the case of an individual, to a maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months. In the case of a political party, a fine of ₦2,000,000 in the first instance, and ₦500,000 for any subsequent offence.

Offences

• Campaigning in public earlier than 90 days before polling day or ending it less than 24 hours before the election.

• A political party, advertising in a newspaper, radio or TV less than 24 hours before polling day

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000

Offences

• Employing State apparatus including the media to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.

• Unequal allocation of Media time among political parties or candidates

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 in the first instance and a maximum fine of ₦1,000,000.00 for a subsequent conviction.

Offences

Broadcasting or publishing any material for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or a candidate during 24 hours immediately preceding or on polling day.

Penalty

a maximum fine of ₦500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 12 months and in case of a body corporate shall pay a maximum fine of ₦1,000,000

18. Offences relating to finances of a political party

Offences

• A Political Party possessing any fund outside or retaining funds or other assets remitted to it from outside Nigeria

Penalty

Forfeiture of the funds or assets to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of not less than ₦500,000.

19. Limitations on Election Expenses and Contribution to a Political Party

Offences

• A Presidential Candidate incurring more than ₦1,000,000,000 as election expenses.

• A Governorship candidate incurring more than ₦200,000,000

• A Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates exceeding ₦40,000,000 and ₦20,000,000 respectively.

• A candidate for State Assembly election spending more than ₦10,000,000.

• A candidate for Chairmanship of an Area Council incurring more than ten million Naira ₦10,000,000

• In the case of Councillorship election to an Area Council, exceeding more than the maximum of election expenses of one million Naira ₦1,000,000

Penalty

-Presidential election, to a maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both

-Governorship election to a fine of ₦800.000 or imprisonment for a term of nine months or both;

-Senatorial election to a fine of ₦600,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both House of Representatives election to a fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for a term of five months or both;

-State House of Assembly election to a fine of ₦300,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or both;

In the case of Chairmanship election, to a fine of ₦300,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or both;

Councillorship election, to a fine of ₦100,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both.

Offences

++An individual or other entity donating more than ₦1,000,000 to any candidate.

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for a term of nine months or both.

Offences

Aiding a candidate to forge or falsify a document relating to his expenditure at an election

Penalty

Imprisonment for a term of 10 years

Offences

Refusal by a political party to submit its election expenses to INEC in a separate audited return within 6 months after an election

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 and in the case of failure to submit an accurate audited return within the stipulated period, the court may impose a maximum penalty of ₦200,000 per day on any party for the period after the return was due until it is submitted to the Commission.

Offences

A political party shall not incur election expenses beyond the limit stipulated in this Act. A political party which contravenes this subsection commits an offence and is liable on conviction

Penalty

A maximum fine of ₦1,000,000 and forfeiture to the Commission of the amount by which the expenses exceed the limit set by the Commission.

In concluding electoral offences and penalties in Nigeria, note that some of these provisions (and penalties) may change with the proposed further amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

INEC CITIZENS CONTACT CENTRE (ICCC)

For all enquiries, complaints and suggestions regarding electoral offences and penalties in Nigeria:

➢ Call the Vote Buying Dedicated Hotline: 09084444333

➢ Facebook; www.facebook.com/inecnigeria

➢ Twitter: www.twitter.com/inecnigrria

➢ Instagram: @inecnigeria

➢ Email [email protected]

➢ Website: www.inecnigeria.org

➢ My INEC APP; (Available in the Google Play Store)

➢ INEC Hotlines: 0700-CALL-INEC (0700-2255-4632)

09050858629, 09050858675, 09050858649, 08180958715, 08180958717, 08180958709, 09025038466, 07086945927, 08120183063, 07062896047, 08105119010, 08146697603

Wrap Up

Now you have an idea of what electoral offences and penalties in Nigeria are. Breaches or violations of some of these provisions often attract penalties, which on conviction may be a fine, a term of imprisonment, or both.

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