Senate okays 20-year jail for candidates snatching ballot materials
The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to establish the Electoral Offences Commission and okayed 20-year jail term for candidates caught snatching ballot materials.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), in his presentation, said the bill became imperative in view of INEC’s inability to prosecute electoral offenders in accordance with the provisions of a section 149 and 150(2) of the Electoral Act (as Amended).
According to him, as a result of electoral flaws in the system, the Justice Uwais Electoral Committee; Sheik Nurudeen Lemu Committee; and Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee were constituted.
He recalled that the Committees in their final reports recommended that for INEC to function efficiently, some of the functions currently performed by it should be assigned to other agencies.
Accordingly, the Senate during consideration of the INEC Committee report, approved the establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission.
The Commission’s membership consists of the Chairman, Secretary and representatives from the Justice, Interior, Defence, and Information Ministries.
The function of the Commission includes investigating electoral Offences created in any laws relating to elections in Nigeria; prosecution of electoral offenders; and maintaining records of all persons investigated and prosecuted.
Others are to liaise with the Attorney-General of the Federation and government security and law enforcement bodies and agencies in the discharge of its duties; liaise with other bodies within and outside Nigeria involved in the investigation or prosecution of electoral Offences; and adopting measures to prevent, minimize and eradicate electoral Offences throughout the federation.
The Senate in Clause 12 of the bill approved at least five years imprisonment or a fine of at least N10 million naira or both, for any officer or executives of any association or political party that engages in electoral fraud that contravenes the provisions of clauses 221, 225(1)(2)(3) and (4) and 227 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The upper chamber adopted the Committee’s recommendation of 15 years imprisonment for any person involved ballot box snatching, supplying voter’s card to persons without due authority, unauthorised printing of voters’ register, illegal printing of ballot paper or electoral document, and importation of any device or mechanism by which ballot paper or results of elections may be extracted, affected or manipulated, and voting at an election when he is not entitled to vote.
It also approved ten years imprisonment for any person who sells voter’s card, or in possession of any voter’s card bearing the name of another person, or prepares and prints a document or paper purporting to be a register of voters or a voter’s card.