2023: INEC Warns Churches, Mosques, Masquerades Ahead Of Election Campaigns 

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has warned all political parties and candidates against the use of masqueraders, public facilities and religious centres for campaigns.

The electoral body urged political parties to comply with the stipulations to avoid sanctions as stipulated by the Act.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman on Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye stated this during an interview with Punch.

It’s was reported that the statement is coming exactly one month to the commencement of campaigns which the commission has fixed for September 28 while  the elections would hold on February 25, 2023.

In previous elections, some political parties and their candidates were engaged in all kinds of theatrics, including the use of masqueraders, to entertain crowd and add colour to their rallies. Some also covertly campaigned in public offices and worship centres, especially churches and mosques, to woo civil servants and worshippers, respectively.

However, quoting from the provisions of the section, Okoye said, “Section 92 of the Electoral Act makes it mandatory that a political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.

“Therefore, 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.

Subsection 3 states that places designated for religious worship, police stations and public offices shall not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions; or to promote, propagate or attack political parties, candidates or their programmes or ideologies.

“Masqueraders shall not be employed or used by any political party, aspirant or candidate during political campaigns or for any other political purpose.”

Speaking further, the INEC national commissioner pointed out that the Act already provided for sanctions for violators and that adherence to the law should be prioritised by all the parties and candidates.

In tandem with subsections 7(a)(b) and 8, Okoye stated, “A political party, aspirant or candidate who contravenes any of the provisions of Section 92 of the Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction 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 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.

“A person or group of persons who aids or abets a political party, an aspirant or a candidate in organising or equipping any person or group for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of three years or both.”

Abeeb Atanda

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