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N5bn spending cap, donation can’t exceed N50m… what to know about 2023 election campaign

  After months of anticipation and preparation, September 28, 2022, is finally upon us. It is the day stipulated by the Independent National...

 


After months of anticipation and preparation, September 28, 2022, is finally upon us. It is the day stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for political parties to commence campaigns for the presidential and national assembly elections in 2023.

With parties set to begin the process of convincing citizens to vote for their candidates, here are seven key things to know as we head into campaign season.

CAMPAIGNS CAN’T BE HELD IN PLACES OF WORSHIP

Under section 92 of the Electoral Act 2022, places of religious worship, police stations, and public offices must not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions. They must also not be used to promote or attack political parties, candidates or their programmes.

The section further states that masquerades should not be used by any political party, aspirant or candidate during political campaigns or for any other political purpose.

The punishment for candidates found contravening the law is N1 million fine or imprisonment for a term of 12 months. For a political party, a fine of N2 million in the first instance, and N1 million for any subsequent offence will be paid.

N5BN LIMIT FOR ELECTION EXPENSES BY CANDIDATE

The electoral act defines election spending as “expenses incurred by a political party within the period from the date notice is given by the commission to conduct an election up to and including the polling day in respect of the particular election”.

Section 88 (2) of the act stipulates that the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election should not exceed N5 billion.

Meanwhile, the maximum amount that can be incurred by a candidate for governorship election should not exceed N1 billion, while senatorial and house of representatives candidates should not exceed N100 million and N70 million in election expenses respectively.

“In the case of State Assembly election, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate shall not exceed N30,000,000. In the case of a chairmanship election to an Area Council, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate shall not exceed N30,000,000. In the case of Councillorship election to an Area Council, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate shall not exceed N5,000,000,” the act reads.

“A candidate who knowingly acts in contravention of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of 1% of the amount permitted as the limit of campaign expenditure under this Act or imprisonment for a term not more than 12 months or both.”

NO INDIVIDUAL CAN DONATE MORE THAN N50M

According to the act, INEC has the power to place limitations on the amount of money or assets an individual can contribute to a political party or candidate. The commission also has the power to demand information on the amount donated and the source of the funds.

The act states in section 88 (8) that no individual can donate more than N50 million to a candidate.

Any individual that exceeds the limit will be fined five times the amount donated in excess of the limit, while a candidate who knowingly defies the limit is liable on conviction to a fine of one percent of the amount of the limit or 12 months imprisonment, or both. 

Meanwhile, a political party that exceeds the limit will be liable to a fine of not more than N10,000,000 and forfeiture of the amount donated. 

PARTIES CANNOT HAVE FUNDS OUTSIDE NIGERIA

Section 85 of the electoral act prohibits any political party from holding or possessing funds outside the country.

According to the act, any party convicted of doing so will “forfeit the funds or assets purchased with such funds to the Commission and in addition may be liable to a fine of at least N5,000,000”.

NO PARTY SHOULD BE PREVENTED FROM HOLDING RALLIES

Section 91(4) of the act states that no registered political party in Nigeria, its aspirants or candidate should be prevented from holding rallies, processions or meetings at any time for political purposes.

“Police shall in a consultative manner, resolve any conflict of time and venue between and amongst parties where such arises,” the act says.

ABUSIVE, PROVOCATIVE LANGUAGES PROHIBITED

A political campaign or slogan should not include abusive language which can directly or indirectly injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.

Section 92 (2) adds that “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”.

MEDIA PROHIBITED FROM WORKING FOR POLITICAL PARTIES

Section 95 of the electoral act states that the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. 

The section reads in part: “Media time shall be allocated equally among the political parties or candidates at similar hours of the day. 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. At any public print media, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties.”

Any public media that goes against the section of the act is liable on conviction to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance and N5,000,000 for a subsequent conviction. Principal officers and other officers of the media house convicted of defying Section 95 are liable to a fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months.

VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION NOT ALLOWED 

Section 93 of the act says the voters must not be compelled — by means of force or violence — to support candidates or political parties or withhold support for their preferred politicians.

The section reads in part: “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”.

“A political party, candidate, aspirant, person or group of persons that contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and is 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.”

 

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