15 Electoral Laws All Nigerians Should Know | Legalnaija
On the 25th day of February, 2022, the President signed the Electoral Bill into law. The new enactment has thus effectively repealed the old Electoral Act of 2010. Essentially, this article provides an insight into 15 electoral laws that all Nigerians are expected to know.
1. Primary Elections and Submission of Candidates Names to INEC
Pursuant to section 29(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, political parties are expected to conduct their primaries and also submit candidate’s list to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not later than 180 days before the date fixed for general election. Meanwhile, the old Act permitted the submission of list of candidates not later than 60 days before the conduct of the general election. This means that primaries and submission of list of candidates must done on time; within the stipulated time frame.
2. Early Campaigns
Noteworthy, section 94 of the Act stipulates that all campaigns should commence 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours before that day. Formerly, the time frame was 90 days before the day of election.
3. Bribery and Vote Buying
There are certain provisions of the Electoral Act that prohibit bribery and vote buying. For instance, section 90(1) provides that a political party shall not accept or keep any anonymous monetary or other contributions, gift, or property, from any source. Giving bribe to electoral officers in order to procure the return of a candidate is a crime which is punishable with a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both. It is also an offence with similar punishment to give bribe to voters to cast their vote in favour of a particular candidate.
4. Free and Fair Election
In order to ensure free and fair election, section 126 prohibits any person from persuading other voters to vote for a particular candidate on the election day. Furthermore, it frowns at anyone who shouts slogans concerning the election or intimidate voters during the election. No symbol, photograph or vehicle shall be used to promote any political party on the day of election. Specifically, section 126(1)(j) prohibits snatching or destroying of any election materials.
5. Qualifications for Registration as a Voter
Before a person can be qualified to register as a Voter, the following requirements in section 12(1) must be met. First, the person must be a citizen of Nigeria. Second, the person must have attained the age of 18 years. Third, the person must be resident, work in, or originate from the Local Government Area Council or Ward where the registration centre is located. The fourth requirement is that such a person must present himself or herself to the registration officers as a voter. Lastly, the person must not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or regulation in force in NigeNigeria.
6. Double Registration is Illegal
Section 12(2) prohibits double registration. Section 12(3) imposes a fine of not more than N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more one year or both for anyone who registers more than once.
7. Impersonation of Voters
The express wording of section 119(1)(a) prevents any person from impersonating a living, or dead or a fictitious person at the time of voting. This act attracts a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both. Anyone who aids or abets the impersonator would also bear a similar punishment.
8. Secrecy in Voting
Section 122 provides that voting shall be done in secret at the polling unit. It also provides that no person shall communicate to any person information as to the name or number on the register of any voter who has or has not voted at the polling unit. It further prohibits unnecessary or unjustified interference with the voting process. Failure to comply with these provisions would render the perpetrator liable to a maximum fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or both. Significantly, section 144 reinforces secrecy of ballot by providing that no person who has voted in any election shall be required to say for whom he or she voted in any legal proceedings.
9. Replacement of Lost or Damages Voter’s Card
Section 18 allows a voter to apply to the electoral officer, not less than 90 days before the polling day, for a replacement of voter’s card that is lost, destroyed, defaced, torn or otherwise damaged. If the electoral officer is satisfied with the application, a new voter’s card would be issued with the word “REPLACEMENT” clearly marked or printed on it, together with the date it was issued.
10. Buying and Selling Voter’s Card is Illegal
According to section 22 of the Act, it is unlawful for a person to sell or attempt to sell or offer for sale any voter’s card whether belonging to him/her or to another person. This also applies to anyone who buys or offers to buy any voter’s card for himself/herself or for another person. The punishment for the offence is a fine not more than N500,000 or imprisonment not more than two years or both.
11. Personal Voting
According to section 55, each voter is expected to record his or her vote at the polling unit or voting centre personally in accordance with the manner prescribed by the Commission.
12. Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs
Section 54(1) of the Act allows a person to assist a voter with visual impairment or any other form of disability. Such a person is allowed to accompany the disabled person into the voting compartment so as to help him or her to vote for their preferred candidate. To make it easy for disabled persons to vote, the Commission is mandated to make the following facilities available at the polling place: Braille, large embossed print, electronic devices, sign language interpretation and off-site voting.
13. Review of electoral results declared under duress
Section 65(1) of the Act empowers INEC to review electoral results which, in the opinion of the Commission, was declared involuntarily. This review is expected to be done with seven days from the date in which the results were declared.
14. Non-Partisanship or Neutrality
Section 8(5) of the Act requires INEC officials to maintain political neutrality. This means that an INEC official cannot be a politician or a member of a political party at the same time. It is also important to state that it is an offence for any INEC official to be affiliated with any political party. Such offence is punishable with a fine of N5,000,000 or an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
15. E-Voting and Transmission of Results
By virtue of sections 47 and 50(2) of the Act, INEC is authorised to use smart card readers, electronic accreditation of voters amongst others. Furthermore, INEC can transmit results through electronic platforms. Section 62(2) empowers the Commission to maintain a centralized electronic register of election for e-collation.
Clifford Ndujihe, ’10 Key Provisions of the New Electoral Act’ Vanguardng (25 February, 2022) https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/02/10-key-provisions-of-the-new-electoral-act/amp/ accessed 26 December 2022.
David Ijaseun, ‘2022 Electoral Bill: 10 things every Nigerian should know’ Businessdayng (22 February 2022) <https://businessday.ng/politics/article/electoral-bill-2022-10-things-every-nigerian-should-know /> accessed 26 December 2022.
Jide Ojo, ‘Anti-corruption provisions in Nigeria’s Electoral Laws’ Punchng (18 March 2022) https://punchng.com/anti-corruption-provisions-in-nigerias-electoral-laws/?amp accessed 26 December 2022
Jude Otakpor, ‘Nigeria: Some Distinctive Features Of Nigeria’s Electoral Act, 2022’ Mondaq (26 April 2022) https://www.mondaq.com/nigeria/constitutional-administrative-law/1186800/some-distinctive-features-of-nigeria39s-electoral-act-2022 accessed 26 December 2022.