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Nigerian Senate approves 20-year jail term for persons caught snatching ballot materials

Anyone found stealing voting papers during elections in Nigeria would face a 20-year prison sentence, according to the Nigerian Senate.

When the statute creating the Electoral Offences Commission was passed, legislators provided their assent for such a penalty.

The commission’s responsibilities include investigating electoral crimes, prosecuting electoral offenders, and keeping track of all those who have been investigated and punished.

The following are some of the penalties that are specified for each offender:

Party officials who participate in election fraud face a five-year prison sentence or a N10 million fine.

The Senate has approved a 20-year prison sentence for anybody found stealing voting materials.

In Clause 12 of the bill, the senate approved a sentence of at least five years in prison or a fine of at least N10 million naira, or both, for any officer or executive of any association or political party who engages in electoral fraud in violation of clauses 221, 225(1)(2)(3) and (4), and 227 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

-A ten-year prison sentence for selling a voter’s card

The senate also authorised a ten-year sentence for anybody who sells a voter’s card, is in possession of a voter’s card carrying another person’s name, or creates and publishes a document or paper claiming to be a voter’s register or a voter’s card.

Election officials who block voters from voting face a ten-year prison sentence.

The senate also approved a sentence of at least ten years in prison for any election official who willfully prevents a person from voting at a polling station, willfully rejects or refuses to count any validly cast ballot paper, willfully counts any ballot paper that is not validly cast, gives false evidence or withholds evidence, and announces or declares a false election result. Clause 20(2) of the upper chamber’s bill mandated that any judicial official or officer of a court or tribunal who corruptly perverts electoral justice during or after an election face at least fifteen years in jail.

-Fifteen years in jail for attempting to influence election results

Any security personnel or election official employed by the Independent National Electoral Commission or a State Electoral Commission who tries to influence the result of an election faces at least fifteen years in prison or a fine of N30 million naira, according to the senate.

Six months in jail for interfering with the peace

Anyone caught disturbing the public peace on Election Day by playing musical instruments, singing, or convening an assembly near a voting station is guilty of breaking electoral peace and faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a fine of N100,000, or both.

-Defamation of candidates is punishable by a ten-year prison sentence.

Any person acting for himself or on behalf of any organisation, political party, candidate, or his agent with the intent of influencing the outcome of an election, damaging or defaming the character of any candidate in an election or his family member in any way by making, saying, printing, airing, or publishing false accusations on any matter in the print or electronic media shall be guilty.

For soliciting votes, a five-year prison sentence or a N10 million fine is imposed.

Anyone found soliciting or giving votes for or against any political party or candidate in an election, or affixing campaign materials on any private house, public building or structure, or printing posters and banners without the name and address of the political party to which the candidate or person belongs, is guilty of an offence and liable to at least five years in prison.

-For stealing vote boxes, a twenty-year prison sentence has been imposed.

Without the authorization of the election official in charge of the polling station, any candidate or agent who destroys or steals ballot boxes, ballot papers, or election materials before, during, or after an election faces at least twenty years in jail or a fine of at least forty million naira.

-Fifteen years in prison for attempting to sway voters.

Any individual who transports voters to and from the polls will face at least fifteen years in jail, while any employee who directly or indirectly exerts undue influence on a voter in his employ would face three years in prison.

Hate speech is punishable by ten years in prison or a N20 million fine.

Any individual who uses hate speech to incite ethnic, religious, or racial hatred, social or political insecurity, or violence against anybody or a group of people will face at least 10 years in jail or a fine of at least twenty million naira, or both, according to the senate.

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