Crime Focus

Electoral: The law, offences and punishment (II)


By Saliu Woru Muhammed

Continued from last week

At the polling centre, the police and other law enforcement agents are there to protect you by providing you with adequate security. While there, the electoral officials are responsible for conducting and supervising election. However, before the commencement of the election, the electoral officials who received electoral materials from the Resident Electoral Commission and distribute them to the presiding officials who will be assisted by the three electoral officials. After the elections, it is the duty of the returning officer to tabulate and sum up the scores of the candidate and declare winners in a particular constituency to achieve successful elections. Meanwhile, the Chairman of Kwara State INEC has begun a massive recruitment of electoral officers and staff, while training and retraining of those already recruited by INEC Adhoc staff have begun in earnest.
In this direction, the effort of the commission towards conducting a free and fair election is highly commendable. In a giant stride aimed at achieving credible elections, the INEC is allowed by law to appoint monitors who are staff of the commission to monitor and check the conduct of elections and to ensure that the elections are conducted in line with  laid down law and regulation. Party agents are also appointed by the political parties to represent their parties interest during distribution of materials, accreditation, vote counting, collation and declaration of results.
Hence, the main duty of party agent is to observe the whole process up to the time of declaration of result and return of winners on behalf of their parties and make reports to their principal.
For the avoidance of doubt, party agents are not allowed to handle any election materials or interfere in the conduct of the polls or counting of results, they are expected to be law abiding, doing contrary amount to the infringement of the law. Other persons allowed full access to the polling unit/collation centres on Election Day include the voters, security agents, journalists, domestic and international observers. I must point out however that they are not authorised to interfere in the voting process or handle election materials.
My dear voters, election should not be a ‘do or die’ affair. It therefore behooves on me and you to always play politics without bitterness. Election can only be free and fair when you and I resolve today to cooperate fully with the INEC/KWSIEC staff. Political parties should endeavour to talk to their followers and supporters on the need to live together in peace and harmony, since without peace and harmony no meaningful development could be achieved by the government
You risk the chance of going to JAIL with an option of FINE if you engage in any form of electoral offences during the election period.
To be continued

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