Election Campaign Modalities Under the Electoral Act, 2022
As politicians and their political parties gear up for electioneering campaigns towards the 2023 general elections, a massive enlightenment of the governing rules for electioneering campaigns, under the Electoral Act 2022(the Act) becomes imperative. This piece of compilation seeks to succinctly achieve that aim with the following answered subheads:
Can A Political Party Be Prevented From Holding Rallies/Processions?
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Whereas the Act enjoins the Commissioner of Police in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to provide adequate security for proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and processions in their respective jurisdictions (for which purpose, the Police may be supported by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and any other security agency of the Federal Government),the law expressly states that no registered political party in Nigeria, its aspirants or candidate shall be prevented from holding rallies, processions or meetings at any time for their constitutional political purposes, and the Police shall in a consultative manner, resolve any conflict of time and venue between and amongst parties where such arises.
Refer: Section 91 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The above provision resonates with Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 . See also Abubakar Vs. A. G. Federation (2007) 3 NWLR (1022) 601 @ 638 B – G.
What Conducts Are Prohibited At Political Campaigns?
The Act expressly prohibits certain conducts at political campaigns. These are:
(1) A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings. (2) Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or insinuations or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns. (3) Places designated for religious worship, police station, and public offices shall not be used –(a) for political campaigns, rallies and processions; or (b) to promote, propagate or attack political parties, candidates or their programmes or ideologies.
(4) Masquerades shall not be employed or used by any political party, aspirant or candidate during political campaigns or for any other political purpose. (5) A political party, aspirant or candidate of a political party shall not retain, organise, train or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interests, or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organised, trained or equipped for that purpose.
(6) A political party, aspirant or candidate shall not keep or use armed private security organisation, vanguard or any other group or individual by whatever name called for the purpose of providing security, assisting or aiding the political party or candidate in whatever manner during campaigns, rallies, processions or elections. Refer: Section 92(1-6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
What Are The Consequences Of Engaging In Prohibited Conducts?
The consequences for breach of the above provisions are as explicit as the provisions itself:
A political party, aspirant or candidate who contravenes any of the provisions above commits an offence and is liable on conviction –
(a) in the case of an aspirant or candidate, to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months; and (b) in the case of a political party, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance, and N1,000,000 for any subsequent offence.
Any person or group of persons who aids or abets a political party, an aspirant or a candidate in contravening the provisions of subsection (5), commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of three years or both.
Refer: Section 92(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Is The Use Of Force Allowed At A Political Campaign?
The Act clearly proscribes the use of force at a political campaign and clearly states as follows:
A party, candidate, aspirant, or person or group of persons shall not directly or indirectly threaten any person with the use of force or violence during any political campaign in order to compel that person or any other person to support or refrain from supporting a political party or candidate.
Refer: Section 93(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
What Are The Consequences Of The Use Of Force At A Political Campaign?
Any political party, candidate, aspirant, or person or group of persons that contravenes the above provisions commits an offence and liable on conviction –(a) in the case of a candidate, aspirant, or person or group of persons, to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months; and (b) in the case of a political party, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance, and N500,000 for any subsequent offence.
Refer: Section 93(2)&(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.
What Is The Time Limit For Political Broadcast And Campaign By Political Parties?
The period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.
What Are The Consequences Of Campaigning During 24 Hours Before Polling Day?
A registered political party which through any person acting on its behalf during the 24 hours before polling day –
(a) advertises on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking; or (b) procures for publication or acquiesces in the publication of an advertisement in a newspaper, for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular candidate, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000.
Further, a person, print or electronic medium that broadcasts, publishes, advertises or circulates any material for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or the election of particular candidate over the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, handbills, or any print or electronic media whatsoever called within twenty four hours immediately preceding or on polling day commits an offence under this Act.
Where an offence under reference is committed by a body corporate, the principal officers of that body shall be deemed to have equally committed the same offence.
A person convicted of an offence under the referenced provision is liable –(a) in the case of a body corporate to a maximum fine of N1,000,000; and (b) in the case of an individual to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term of six months or both.
Refer: Sections 94 and 96 of the Electoral Act,2022
Note that the print or publication must be directly linked to the particular candidate himself. See: Falae vs Obasanjo No2(1999) LPELR-6585(CA)
Are There Further Specific Provisions On Campaign For Election?
These are as follows:
(1) A candidate and his or her party shall campaign for the elections in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be determined by the Commission.
(2) State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.
(3) Media time shall be allocated equally among the political parties or candidates at similar hours of the day. (4) At any public electronic media, equal airtime shall be allotted to all political parties or candidates during prime times at similar hours each day, subject to the payment of appropriate fees. (5) At any public print media, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties.
What Are The Consequences Of Breaching The Above Provisions?
Any person who contravenes the provisions under reference commits an offence and is liable on conviction, in a case of –(a) a public media, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance and N5,000,000 for subsequent conviction; and
(b) principal officers and other officers of the media house, to a fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months.
Refer:Section 95 of the Electoral Act 2022.
What Is The Position Of The Act On Campaigns Based On Religion Or Tribe?.
The Act forbids campaigns based on extraneous factors such as religion, tribe or sectionalism and by stating that:
(1) A candidate, person or association who engages in campaigning or broadcasting based on religious, tribal, or sectional reason for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or the election of a particular candidate, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction –(a) to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both; and (b) in the case of political party to a maximum fine of N10,000,000.
Refer: Section 97 of the Electoral Act 2022.
Theophilus Orumor Esq,ACIArb (UK).