Any INEC Staff Found Guilty Will Spend 5 Years In Jail For Result Manipulations
Any Staff or official of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) found guilty of falsifying result of a political party’s primary election in the country will spend five years in jail.
This is contained in a Bill titled ‘Act to Amend the Electoral Act No.6 2010 and other Related Matters’ which was passed by the Senate on March 30, 2017.
In the bill exclusively obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday, the Senate included some clauses to section 49 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), including clause 14 which is the proposed law that proscribes the five-year jail term without an option of fine for any INEC official found to have falsified a political party’s primary result.
With the passage of the Bill by the Red Chamber, it will have to go to the House of Representatives for concurrence before it is set for onward transmission to the president for his assent.
Other introductions in the Bill passed by the upper chamber to amended the Electoral Act 2010 include legalising the use of smart card readers for the authentication of accredited voters as was done in the 2015 general election and the use of electronic voting in future elections.
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which lists some offences in part V11 tagged ‘Electoral Offences’, covering Sections 117 – 132 does not include the newly introduced offence described in the Bill in clause 14 as ‘Issuance of False Results’.
The newly introduced offence, which is a subsection under Section 49 of the proposed Electoral Act reads: “Any official of the Commission or a state Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) who issues, endorses or certifies a false report or result in respect of an Ad-hoc Delegates Election or primaries of a Political Party commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for five (5) years, without an option of a fine”.
Senate said that the Bill is intended to strengthen INEC by giving it more powers and providing for the substitution of candidates after the conduct of primary election in the event of death and for other related matters.
Besides, it will also empower the presiding officers at polling units to, in addition to the smart card reader, use any other technological device that may be prescribed by INEC from time to time for the accreditation of voters to verify, confirm or authenticate the genuineness or otherwise of voters’ card.
The passage of the Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act 2010 and for other related matters followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC last week Thursday.
The bill, which passed its third reading, also stipulates that votes and recorded results must be transmitted electronically directly from polling units in an encrypted and secured form.
The amendment provides that if for some reasons the encrypted data is compromised, the presiding officer will have to rely on the manual collation, which could however be prone to manipulation. Where the encrypted data is safe, it completely supersedes the manual results.
The amendment is also offering a solution to the ambiguity that may occur in the event a candidate dies after the commencement of elections and before the declaration of a winner by INEC, as was the case during the Kogi gubernatorial election in November 2015.
It added that in such a scenario, INEC shall suspend election for 21 days and the party whose candidate died be given 14 days to conduct another primary to choose a new candidate.
‘’The political party whose candidate died may, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh direct primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate; and that the Commission shall continue with the election, announce the final result and declare a winner”.