Elections are an essential part of any democratic society, allowing citizens to choose their representatives and have a say in the governance of their country.
However, the integrity of the electoral process can be compromised when electoral offences occur.
As the 2023 general elections draw closer, it is rather important to know or be reminded that in Nigeria, there are several punishable electoral offences and those who commit them risk serious repercussions.
Seven of these offenses are covered in this article;
Vote Buying and Selling
Vote buying and selling involve the exchange of money, goods or services in return for votes.
The democratic process is weakened by this behavior, which also violates the principle of free and fair elections. In Nigeria, vote buying and selling is a punishable offence under the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Anyone caught engaging in this practice can be fined up to N500,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.
Impersonation is when an individual poses as someone else during the electoral process.
This can involve using another person’s identity card or other documentation to cast a vote.
Impersonation is a serious offence in Nigeria, and those found guilty can be fined up to N500,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.
Ballot Box Snatching
Ballot box snatching is when an individual steals ballot boxes during an election.
This act is a serious crime in Nigeria and can result in imprisonment for up to five years.
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) also provides for a fine of up to N500,000 for anyone caught committing this offence.
Underage voting occurs when individuals who are not old enough to vote are allowed to do so.
In Nigeria, the legal voting age is 18. Allowing underage individuals to vote undermines the democratic process and can result in a nullification of the election.
Anyone found guilty of this offence can be fined up to N500,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.
Multiple voting is when an individual casts more than one vote during an election. This is a serious offence in Nigeria and can result in imprisonment for up to two years or a fine of up to N500,000.
Disruption of Electoral Process
Disruption of the electoral process can take many forms, including violent acts, destruction of election materials, or intimidation of voters.
Anyone found guilty of disrupting the electoral process can be fined up to N500,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.
Publication of False Results
The publication of false election results is a serious offence in Nigeria. This can involve spreading false information about the outcome of an election or falsely claiming to represent a political party.
Those found guilty of this offence can be fined up to N1,000,000 or imprisoned for up to three years.
Is safe to note that the electoral process in Nigeria is governed by laws and regulations that are designed to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.
For the voting process to be fair and the nation’s democracy to be strengthened, it is crucial that all Nigerians abide by the applicable laws and rules.