On the polling day of 23rd day of February, 2019, which was the date that the Presidential and the National Assembly Elections were held, some persons have been broadcasting election results at polling unit(s) through the media and these broadcast continues in that media and via the social media. I wish to remind such persons of the offence of broadcast of election result under the Electoral Act, 2010.
Sections: 101(1) and 102 of the Electoral Act, 2010, prohibits broadcast of election results as follows ‘101 (1) 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 a particular candidate over the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, handbill, or any print or electronic media whatsoever called during 24 hours immediately preceding or on polling day commits an offence under this Act. (2) Where an offence under subsection (1) of this section is committed by a body corporate, every principal officer of that body is equally guilty of an offence under this Act. (3) Where any person is convicted of an offence under this section he shall be 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 N500,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 12 months. 102. 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 to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or to both.’.
Perhaps, the intendment of the law maker, apart from propaganda or opposition a political party’s opponent is to ensure that every person awaits the final results or compilation of election results finally compiled and made available by Independent National Electoral Commission after the polling day. So, in my humble advice, Nigerians inclusive of lawyers should be patient to await INEC’s declaration of results generally and officially before broadcasting that any of the political parties or their candidates won at a particular polling unit (regardless of what interest such persons have in the political party or its candidate) to avoid prosecution. The only exception here in my humble submission is the accredited observers by INEC who report to a situation room on what has been observed in the election, the result or observation which is not broadcast to the public via the media and any of such observer who breaches this law against broadcast too is not exempted from prosecution.
Finally, these provisions against broadcast are applicable to all the elections in Nigeria.