By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Electoral offences are arguably the most widespread infractions of the law in this season. However, few are ever punished in Nigeria. The most notable are offences leading to the election including violations of campaign expenses and the use of government facilities for campaign.
Indeed, it is even more remarkable that because of the system in Nigeria that a number of politicians after deliberately infringing upon the law to get into public offices use the privileges of the office and the public purse to sustain themselves in office. Funds are obtained from government office to pay lawyers for electoral cases.
Prof. Maurice Iwu as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission had in 2007 vowed to use a then deputy governor of one of the Southwest states who was caught red-handed pulling ballot boxes as an example, however, nothing came out of it. Indeed, in most cases, only the little ones in society, thugs and such who get apprehended by security agents, but in almost all cases, the cases are swept underneath.
Nevertheless, the Electoral Laws stipulate conditions that could make a voter go to prison from polling post on Election Day. Among them are:
1. Giving someone money to vote for or not to vote for someone N100,000 fine or 12 months in prison or both
2. A person shall be culpable if within the vicinity of a N100,000 or six months in prison for each offence
polling station or collation centre he/she-
—Convenes a meeting-
—Wears, carries a badge, poster, banner, flag or symbol relating to a political party —
Makes unauthorised official announcements
3. A person shall be guilty if he/she –
—Canvasses for votes on Election Day- —Shouts political party slogans- N100,000 or six months in prison for each offence
— Is in possession of offensive weapons or wears any dressing
that could intimidate other voters-
—Wears clothes or symbols that could refer to a political party in the election-
—Brings to the vicinity of the polling area vehicles that could refer to as that of a political party in the election-
—Hangs around the polling area after voting or being refused to vote-
4. Forging ballot paper or certificate of return 2 years in prison
5. Being in possession of more than one valid PVC N100,000 fine or 12 months in prison or both
6. Impersonation using another person’s PVC N500,000 fine or 12 months in prison or both
7. Voting more than once N500,000 fine or 12 months in prison or both