Who gave the order?: This is as contained in the new Electoral Law 2022 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
What the new law says: But, with the new Electoral Law, the presence of masquerades is no longer allowed at any political rally.
Section 92 (4) of the new Electoral Law stipulates that no candidate or aspirant should employ masquerades for any purpose during campaigns.
“Masquerades shall not be employed or used by any political party, aspirant or candidate during political campaigns or for any other political purpose,” it is clearly stated.
The law recommends that any candidate or aspirant who violates the law commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months.
The section, titled, ‘Prohibition of Certain Conduct at Political Campaigns’, also directed 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.”
It also warned against the use of slogans or campaign materials tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
Section 92 states further that, “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.
“A political party, aspirant or candidate that contravenes any of the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction – (a) in the case of an aspirant or candidate, to a maximum fine of N 1,000,000 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.”
What was previously obtainable: In previous elections, masquerades were usually seen during campaign rallies across the country.
There were some masquerades decorated with the logos of political parties the masqueraders were supporting.
This use of masquerades is mostly common in the Southern states and some states in the North Central of Nigeria.
Social value of masquerades: They are a symbolic resurrection of the ancestors. Masquerades provide entertainment, define social roles, and communicate religious meaning from ancestors and gods to men of various tribes and beliefs.