Nigerians, especially politicians who engage in campaigns likely to undermine national interest will spend 20 years in jail without an option of fine, the proposed Electoral Offences Commission Bill has said.
The bill currently being considered by the House of Representatives after its passage by the Senate also provides for a 20-year jail term for anyone who propagates information that undermines the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country as well as causing people to vote on the basis of religion, tribe, language or regional consideration.
The House bill is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Rep. Aishatu Dukku, Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House, Rep. Kingsley Chinds, Rep. John Dyegh and Rep. Francis Charles Uduyok.
The proposed law also imposed a jail term of 20 years or a fine of N40 million on those who destroy electoral materials such as ballot box, ballot papers and other materials being used for the conduct of any election before, during or after the election.
Obstructing the counting of ballots after an election, singing, dancing or making loud noise three hours to the commencement of any election or during the election will now be an offence when the commission is established.
In addition, mass transportation of people outside family members to and from the venue of an election before, during and after any election and the renting or paying for the use of such means of transportation will also be considered as an offence under the law when it comes into effect.
The law makes it mandatory for employers to allow their staff enough period to go and cast their votes on election day, while specifying a N6 million fine or three years in jail for those who disallowed their staff the period to go cast their votes.
It, however, exempted, members of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force, State Security Service and other security agencies and those considered to be on essential duties.
The law says that: “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.”
It said further that “It also said 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.”