In the next 48 hours, Nigerians will be heading for the polls for the 2023 general elections to elect leaders in various capacities across the country.
Against this background, however, it’s critical that the electorate get to intimately understand the laws and what constitutes as electoral offences and how to avoid all that before, during and after the elections.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, anyone in breach of any of these provisions is liable to being arrested and charged to court and prosecuted by INEC after investigation by the relevant Security Agencies.
The offences and corresponding penalties are contained in the Commission’s Electoral Offences and Penalties published in February 2019
These are some of the electoral offences prescribed by Nigerian Law as of December 31, 2018.
OFFENCE: Registering more than once; unlawful possession of a voter’s card, selling or buying of voters card
PENALTY: A fine not exceeding N100,000 or imprisonment for one year or both
OFFENCE: Giving false information in any application for registration as a voter
PENALTY: A fine not exceeding N500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both
OFFENCE: Hindering another person from registering as a voter
PENALTY: A fine not exceeding N500,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both.
OFFENCE: Impersonating a registration official, carrying out registration of persons illegally or forging a registration card
PENALTY: A maximum fine of N1,000,000 or 12 months imprisonment or to both.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: Person who commits an offence under subsection (1) of this section is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment for 2 years.
Ballot Papers and Ballot Boxes
OFFENCES:a. Unlawful possession of a ballot paperb. Illegal printing of ballot papersc. Illegal production or importation of ballot boxes.
PENALTY: A maximum fine of N50,000,000 or for a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years or both.Disorderly Behaviour at Political Meetings
OFFENCE: To act in a disorderly manner or be in possession of offensive weapon of a political meeting
PENALTY: A maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or bothImproper Use of Voter Card
OFFENCE: 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 voters cards
PENALTY: A maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or bothImproper Use of Vehicles
OFFENCE: 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 N500,000.00 or imprisonment for six months or bothImpersonation and Voting when not Qualified
OFFENCE: 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 N500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.Dereliction of Duty/ False result
OFFENCE: 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 N500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.
OFFENCE: A Governorship candidate incurring more than N200,000,000
PENALTY: Governorship election to a fine of N800.000 or imprisonment for a term of 9 months or both
OFFENCE: A Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates exceeding N40,000,000 and N20,000,000 respectively.
PENALTY: Senatorial election to a fine of N600,000 or imprisonment for a term of 6 months or both House of Representatives election to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 5 months or both;
OFFENCE: A candidate for State Assembly election spending more than N10,000,000.
PENALTY: State House of Assembly election to a fine of N300,000 or imprisonment for a term of 3 months or both;
OFFENCE: A candidate for Chairmanship of an Area Council incurring more than ten million naira N10,000,000
PENALTY: In the case of Chairmanship election, to a fine of N300,000 or imprisonment for a term of 3 months or both
OFFENCE: In the case of Councillorship election to an Area Council, exceeding more than the maximum of election expenses of one million naira N1,000,000
PENALTY: Councillorship election, to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both
OFFENCE: An individual or other entity donating more than N1,000,000 to any candidate.
PENALTY: A maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 9 months or both.
OFFENCES:Aiding a candidate to forge or falsify a document relating to his expenditure at an election Imprisonment for a term of 10 years.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 N1,000,000 and in the case of failure to submit an accurate audited return within the stipulated period, the court may impose a maximum penalty of N200,000 per day on any party for the period after the return was due until it is submitted to the Commission.
OFFENCE: 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 N1,000,000 and forfeiture to the Commission of the amount by which the expenses exceed the limit set by the Commission.