The Presidency has released a statement reiterating President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments that anyone caught snatching ballot boxes during the elections would be doing so for the last time. The President’s media office has stated that the President’s statement “should be seen as a strong message against the long history of savagery associated with elections in the country.”
Backstory: The presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, reiterated the president’s statement while addressing correspondents at the State House on Monday. He spun it as a case by Buhari against armed thugs who have killed people during previous elections.
“Snatching ballot boxes often entail putting the lives of innocent Nigerians at risk. About 10 years ago, evidence was brought before an election tribunal from one of the states in North Central of the gruesome killing of 26 prospective voters by ballot box snatchers,” he said.
“Their modus operandi is well known. They storm election venues in commando style, overwhelm the law-enforcement agents and seize ballot boxes leaving a trail of death and injury. Anyone who dares to put the lives of innocent citizens at risk in their desperation to rig elections must be prepared for the possibility of losing their own lives because our security agents will certainly not stand by, clap for them and watch them kill and maim,” Shehu said.
He added that President Buhari has the safety and security of Nigerians uppermost in mind when he made the comment and should be praised rather than criticized for issuing this stern warning to potential ballot box snatchers.
Shehu expressed concern about the attacks against the President following the comments he made on the fate of anyone caught snatching ballot boxes.
According to Shehu, the attacks sound “like members of the opposition, specifically the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) who have perfected plans to rig the elections and to snatch ballot boxes. They can tell that President Buhari is not prepared to tolerate their antics this time around, and they are afraid. They have shown their intent.”
The presidential spokesperson noted that no one had anything to fear from the President’s comments if their conscience and intentions are clear.
“Let’s just have free and fair elections and no one needs to worry about anything,” he said.
Bottom Line: The point is Nigeria is a country operated by laws, and there are laws guiding punishment for electoral malpractices. Shooting and killing electoral offenders is an overreach and the president has no business issuing such a directive.