ABUJA—The National Electoral Offences Commission, NEOC, Bill, prescribing stiff sanctions, including a N40 million fine or a 20-year imprisonment for candidates and politicians who disrupt elections, passed through first reading in the Senate, yesterday.
Welcoming the first reading of the bill which formally introduced the legislative proposal into the Senate system, Senator Kyari said it was their contribution to stopping impunity in the nation’s politics. “With the NEOC Bill, we are sending a clear message that this Senate means real business. We do not want electoral impunity in our politics any more. I am confident this bill will become law soon,” Senator Kyari told Vanguard yesterday. Senator Omo-Agege, who was delayed entry into the Senate on account of electoral manipulations redressed by the election tribunal, also said the bill was not just directed at redressing his own past challenges but ensuring that elections were made free and fair throughout the country.
The bill defines electoral offences arising from violation of existing laws. National officers of political parties who fail to submit audited accounts of their parties as stipulated in Section 225 of the constitution are under the provision of the bill, liable to five years imprisonment or a fine not below N10 million. Individuals who forge election documents, including ballot papers or mislead the authorities to make false imprints in the election register, would be liable to 15 years imprisonment without an option of a fine.
Electoral officials, who inhibit individuals from voting, or alter election results or other documents or knowingly give false evidence, withhold evidence from election tribunals or announce false results shall be liable under the provisions of the bill to 10 years imprisonment without the option of a fine. Acts of bribery, undue influence over voters, impersonation under the provisions of the bill, would attract up to 15 years imprisonment without an option of a fine.
Judges who sit on election tribunals who pervert justice and are found to have received favours in one way or the other from candidates or their proxies shall be liable to 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.