By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Electoral Offences Commission and the Bill for an Act to establish the Electoral Offences Tribunal were two legislative efforts at sanitizing the electoral space, but like everything meant for the advancement of the Nigerian nation, they never saw the light of day.
The first bill contains a long list of electoral offences touching on several issues that would otherwise have passed as little infractions, but since it has not come to fruition, there are other actions that are viewed as serious infractions with grave legal consequences.
While law-abiding Nigerians would be casting their ballots this Saturday or perhaps staying at home, there are those who may want to be on the other side of the law. Since ignorance is not an excuse in law, it is pertinent to know that there is a thin line between your Polling Unit and the Prisons, or perhaps, a Police Cell.
Here are some of the things you need to know.
-Presenting someone else’s Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC for voting may lead to prosecution. This is in accordance with section 12(b) which provides that “Any person who presents the PVC of another person with an intention to use it to vote, shall not be allowed to vote and may be liable to arrest and prosecution.”
-Mandatory Pasting of Form EC60E. The Regulations and Guidelines provides that at the close of poll and after sorting and counting and recording of votes, the Presiding Officers shall post the completed Publication of Result Poster EC60(E) at the Polling Unit.
-Not pasting of Form EC60 (E) is electoral offence in line with Section 123 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended). Electoral officials must beware.
-A voter is free to remain within the vicinity of a Polling Unit after voting. This is in accordance with section 20(d) of the Regulations and Guidelines which provides that; “After casting his/her ballot, the voter is free to remain within the vicinity of the Polling Unit to witness the sorting and counting of votes and the announcement of results, provided he/she is orderly. In other words, be disorderly and lose the right to sleep at home for the night or some days.
The Nigeria Police Force is the lead security agency when it comes to elections. The police in 2015 issued a list of electoral offences. Some of them might appear controversial though.
The offences, according to the police are casting of vote twice or more; announcing false election result; stopping any other person from voting and revealing information on the ballot paper of another person.
Other offences are canvassing for votes at the polling unit, shouting slogans of a political party at the polling unit; being armed with guns, sticks, stones or any other dangerous weapons at a polling unit.
As usual, the police has warned that loitering or walking about in a polling unit is an offence, as well as using siren at a polling unit. Snatching or destroying ballot boxes or card readers, holding public meetings during election hours on election day, wearing or carrying badge or poster of a political party and inflicting or threatening to inflict injury on any person or persons at a polling unit are all electoral offences.
On election day, try to stay within the ambit of the law if you must not end up moving from your polling unit to prison.