Sam Okolie

For an act to constitute an offence in Nigeria that offence must first be defined and the penalty thereto is prescribed in a written Law. That is the provision of the Law as ensconced and embedded in section 36(12) of the 1999 constitution.

The recent attendance of some governors from Niger, Republic at the all progressive congress (APC) Presidential election rally held in Kano State has understandably caused some rumpus and ruckus among the Nigerian citizenry, as some hold the view, that an electoral crime has been committed while others opined that the presence of foreign nationals in a presidential rally is capable of undermining our electoral system. It submitted with respect that, while the views expressed above might have some moral justifications, but judging from strict Legal prism and vista, no Law has been broken and no offence committed, as the electoral Act as amended in 2010, or any other Law does not defined nor prescribe punishment for attendance of foreigners in a political rally. Some of the actions that constitute an electoral crime will be discussed anon.

VOTING BY AN UREGISTERED VOTERS

Section 127(1) of the electoral act 2010, state that any person who knowingly votes or attempt to vote in a constituency in respect of which his name is not on the register of voters, commits an offence and liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 6 month or both .Section 127(2) Further provides thus; Any person who knowingly brings into a polling unit during an election, a voters card Issued to another person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 6months or both.

OFFENCES ON ELECTION DAY

Section 129(1) provides that no person shall on the date on which an election is held do any of the following act, or things in a polling unit, or within a distance of 300 metres of a polling unit; (a) Canvas for vote, (b) solicits for the votes of any candidate (c) persuades any voter not to vote for any particular candidate (d) persuades any voter not to vote at the election (e) shown slogans concerning elections (f) Be in possession of any offensive weapon, or wears any dress or have facial or other decorations which in any event is calculate to intimidate voters (g) exhibit, wear or tender any notice, symbol, photograph or party card referring to the election (h) using any vehicle bearing the colour or symbol of a political party by any means whatsoever (i) loiter without any lawful excuse after voting or after being refused to vote (j) snatch or destroy any election material (k) blare siren. Thus any person who omits any of the aforementioned offences (s) has committed an electoral crime. Section 129(2) further provides thus; that no person shall within the vicinity of a polling unit or collation centre on the day of which election is held (a) convene, hold or attended any public meeting during the hours of polls as maybe prescribed by the commission (b) unless appointed under this Act, to make any official announcement or operate any megaphone, amplifier or public address apparatus (c) wear or carry any badge, poster banner, fliers or symbol, relating to a political party or the election. Subsection 4 of section 129 provide for a term of 6 month imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 for anybody who contravenes any of the aforementioned section.

SNATCHING OR DESTRUCTION OF ELECTION MATERIALS

Section 129 (4) of the electoral Act provides that any person who snatches or destroys any election materials commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment

BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION DURING ELECTION

Section 124 (1) (a) – (e) is the section which principally deals with bribery and corruption during election. Under the aforesaid section, any person who directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person on his behalf, gives, lends or agrees to give or lend or offer any money valuable consideration for things for the purpose of influencing election is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for 12 month or both. Conversely section 124 (2) of the Act deals with voters who receive bribe. The subsection state thus; a voter commits an offence of bribery where before or during an election directly or indirectly, himself or by any other person on his behalf, receives, agrees or contract for any money, gift, loan or valuable consideration, office, place or employment for himself or for any other person for victory or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from any voting at any such election.

WRONGFUL VOTING AND GIVING FALSE STATEMENT

This principally deals with people who are prohibited from voting, this refers to underage persons, foreigners and people who are prohibited from voting. section 126 (1) state that any person who (a) votes at an election or induces or procures any person to vote at an election, knowing that he or such person is prohibited from voting thereat is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to fine of N100,000 or an imprisonment for a term of six months or both.

GIVING OF FALSE STATEMENT AGAINST A CANDIDATE

Section 126(1)(b) state that any person who, before or during an election publishes any statement of the withdrawal of a candidate of such election ,knowing it to be false or reckless as to its truth or falsity or © before or during an election publishes any statement as to the personal character or conduct of a candidate calculated to prejudice the chance of the election of the candidate or to promote or procure the election of another candidate and such statement is false and was published without reasonable ground for belief by the person publishing it that the statement is true ,commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of 100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six month or both.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT AT AN ELECTION

Any person who at an election, act or incites others to act in a disorderly manner commit an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of 500,00 or to imprisonment for a team of 6month or both.

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