Nigeria’s house of representatives is considering a bill that proposes 20-year jail term and N40 million fine for anyone who causes people to vote on the basis of religion, community, tribe, language or territorial region in the 2023 general elections.
Similarly, any candidate who distills a piece of information that undermines the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, or unity of the Federation and promotes feeling of hate during campaigns, according to the bill, will be jailed for 20 years.
The punitive measures are prescribed and contained in Electoral Offences Commission Bill currently undergoing consideration at the House of Representatives.
The bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Dukku, Leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House, Kingsley Chinda, John Dyegh and Francis Charles Uduyok.
It is seen an attempt to appropriate stiffer penalties to bring about credibility in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The bill also stipulates a fine of N40 million for anyone who shall loot, damage or destroy ballot boxes, papers or any material during voting.
It reads: “No person shall propagate or cause to be propagated anything or information that (a) undermines or is capable of undermining the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, or unity of the Federation;(b) promotes or is capable of promoting feeling of enmity or hate on the basis of any religion, community, caste, tribe, language or territorial region; or (c) causes or is capable of causing people to vote on the basis of any religion, community, caste, tribe, language or territorial region.
“Any person who commits an act in contravention of subclause (1) of this clause shall be guilty of a serious electoral offence and liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of at least twenty (20) years without an option of a fine.
“No candidate or agent of his or any other person shall grab, loot, damage or destroy in any manner ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material before, during or after an election, or take or attempt to take or cause to be taken ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material before, during or after an election without the permission of election official in charge of the election at a polling station or election official in charge of the electoral materials or abet to the commission of such act or cause obstruction of any kind in any manner to any other acts relating to an election.”
“Contravening the provision of this section attracts a sanction of at least 20 years in prison with an option of N40 million fine”.
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