John Ameh, Abuja
The House of Representatives has proposed penalties ranging from a fine of N500,000 to N50m or a prison term of up to 10 years for electoral offences.
A convicted offender may also pay both fine and be sentenced to a prison term.
Offenders will be tried not in conventional courts but by a Commission/Electoral Tribunal to be established specifically for the purpose of handling election-related offences in the country.
In the same vein, the maximum expenses to be incurred by a presidential candidate for electioneering shall not exceed N1bn.
Governors shall spend not more than N200m while senators shall spend N40m and members of the House of Representatives, N20m.
Donations to candidates shall not exceed N1m.
Violators, in the case of presidential election, shall face a fine of N1m or imprisonment of 12 months or both.
For governors, the fine is N800,000 or a prison term of nine months or both.
In the case of senatorial election, the fine for a violator is N600,000 or a prison term of six months or both.
House of Representatives members, who breach the law, shall pay a fine of N500,000 or face a prison term of five months or both.
These provisions are contained in two harmonised bills – ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the Electoral Offences Tribunal for the Purpose of Trying Electoral Offences’; and ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigerian Electoral Offences Commission Charged with the Responsibility of Prohibition and Prosecution of Electoral Offences’ – now before the House.
The House Committee on Electoral Matters had worked on the bills and laid the report before the House for consideration.
The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that the report was scheduled for consideration on December 21, but had to be stood down till January 16, 2018 when lawmakers would have reconvened after the Christmas and New Year festivities.
Under the proposed law, unauthorised printing, distribution, importation or destruction of ballot papers and result sheets attract a jail term of 10 years.
The offender has an option of a fine of N50m.
The PUNCH obtained a copy of the report on the bill on Sunday.
The provision adds in Sub-Section 3 of the bill, “An attempt to commit any offence under this section shall be punishable in the same manner as the offence itself.”
Offences relating to registration of voters, including double registration, forgery and mutilation of registration documents, attract a jail term of 12 months or a fine of N1m or both.
Similarly, anybody who forges a nomination paper or “signs a nomination paper, consenting to be a candidate at an election, knowing that he is ineligible to be a candidate at that election, commits an offence.”
The bill adds, “A person who commits an offence under Sub-Section (1) of this section is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.”
The bill further provides that “improper use of voter’s card”, such as giving it to another person for proxy voting or selling or buying of the card, attracts a jail term of 12 months or a fine of N1m or both.
Offences like “disorderly behaviour at political meetings” or being in possession of offensive weapons attract a fine of N500,000 “or imprisonment for 12 months or both.”
Section 10 of the bill prescribes penalties for the offence of “impersonation and voting when not qualified.”
Sub-section 10(1)(e-f) reads, “Any person, who votes or attempts to vote at an election, knowing that he is not qualified to vote at the election or (f) induces or procures any other person to vote at an election, knowing that such a person is not qualified to vote, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment or both.”
Sub-section 10(2), adds “Any person, who commits the offence of impersonation or who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of that offence, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both.”
Offences like polling officers failing to discharge their duties, delivering false results, delaying voting and announcing false results attract a fine of N500,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment or both.
Sub-section 11(5) provides, “Any Returning Officer or Collation Officer, who delivers or causes to be delivered, a false Certificate of Return, knowing same to be false, commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum imprisonment of three years without an option of fine.”
Bribery or inducing voters with money attracts a penalty of N500,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment or both.
The bill provides that both the giver and the receiver of the money are liable.
On acts of violence or disorderly conduct on election day, the bill provides, “Any person, who, at an election, acts or incites others to act in a disorderly manner, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 “ or imprisonment of 12 months or both.”
Any act that results in injury to any person or losses or intimidating voters to vote against their wish attracts a penalty of N1m or a jail term of three years.
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