Outrage as Buhari says death awaits ballot box snatchers


Politicians, human rights activists, lawyers and prominent Nigerians on Monday attacked President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring that death awaited ballot box snatchers during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.



Buhari had early on Monday while speaking at a national caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress in Abuja, said ballot box snatchers would pay with their lives as security agencies had been given the go ahead to be ruthless with them.



The President said this at the meeting, which was convened by the APC to review the poll delay and discuss other plans by the party ahead of the elections on Saturday.



Buhari stated, “I do not expect anybody to cause any disturbance. The security agencies have identified hot spots and flashpoints and should be prepared to move. We have made as much arrangement as possible for them as much as the country can afford.



“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or leads thugs to disturb the process, maybe that will be the last unlawful action you will take.



“We have directed the military and other security agents to be ruthless. We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections.”



The President noted that he did not need anyone to cause violence on his behalf as he was popular enough to win the presidential election without ballot boxes being snatched for him.



The President added, “I want Nigerians to be respected and let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I am not afraid of that. I went round the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and I think I have enough support across the country to vote for me.



“So, I want to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life.”



Buhari further expressed his displeasure over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to postpone the polls barely six hours to the start of voting on February 16.



He recalled that INEC had all the resources and time to plan for the polls, hence the postponement was altogether unnecessary.



“Definitely, the reason why such incompetence manifested has to be explained to the nation. After the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible.



“Otherwise, our efforts to make sure that this system is acceptable would have been eroded. The constitution and the law protected INEC. But they must not take us for granted,” Buhari said.



Speaking further on efforts made to ensure that INEC succeeded, Buhari recalled that even the National Assembly had to make necessary approvals for the umpire.



He added, “If for example, the National Assembly refused to approve what they wanted, INEC would have had moral reasons why they couldn’t perform. If the time of four years of election was not constitutionally obeyed, the government and INEC would have a case.



“But we don’t understand the reason for this inefficiency and we have to go into details after the election to find out who is responsible.”



Buhari, however, praised the leadership of the APC for being focused so far.
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