Posted by News Express | 19 February 2019 | 1,390 times
Condemnation on Monday trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that police and the military should kill ballot box snatchers on election day.
Buhari had at an emergency caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday warned that anyone who foments trouble, especially by snatching ballot boxes, would be doing so at the “expense of his life.”
“Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action you would take. I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless.
“I am going to warn anybThe Electoral Act (2011) prohibits anyone from snatching electoral materials. Section 129 subsection (4) of the Electoral Act prescribes a maximum two years imprisonment for offenders. “Any person who snatches or destroys any election material commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment.”
Directive, call for jungle justice, licence to kill — PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the directive by President Buhari as direct call for jungle justice and licence to kill.
The party, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Buhari presidency and APC are plotting to trigger widespread political crisis to derail the democratic process and plunge the nation into anarchy.
The party said that “President Buhari’s threat to the lives of Nigerians, at the opening of APC’s national caucus meeting in Abuja, is a direct call for jungle justice and attempt to divert public attention from their closed session where details of their dastardly plot to truncate our democratic process will be perfected.”
“We do hope that this call by President Buhari is not a camouflage for the fake soldiers mobilised by the APC to shoot at innocent Nigerians, snatch ballot boxes and execute their rigging plans on the election day. It is indeed a licence to kill, which should not come from any leader of any civilised nation.
“The underlining fact to the above is that President Buhari and APC leaders, upon getting to their voting constituencies last Saturday, realised that there is a nationwide rejection of Buhari’s re-election bid, and this has thrown them into a panic mode.
“President Buhari must, however, bear in mind that his resort to threats and scaremongering will not deter Nigerians from coming out en-masse to vote him out of office on February 23.
“We are aware that President Buhari, who had earlier boasted that nobody can ‘unseat’ him, is bent on using every dictatorial and tyrannical act to truncate the process of a free, fair and credible election,” the party said.
Buhari calling for extra-judicial killing of Nigerians— Afenifere
In the same way, Afenifere on Monday said the statement credited to President Buhari that anyone who attempts to snatch ballot boxes on election day will pay with his life is a testimony that a dictator is at the helm of affairs of Nigeria’s democracy.
In a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin, its National Publicity Secretary, the group said while ballot snatching is a criminal offence that deserves punishment, it does not call for extra-judicial killing as being canvassed by the president.
“The statement by President Buhari that police and soldiers should engage in extra-judicial killing of civilians on suspicion of rigging election is a reflection of the mind of a total military dictator that sit atop a democratic governance.
“If people engage in election rigging, it is a serious offence. They should be arrested and the full weight of the law should be brought down on them. But to ask that the lives of citizens should be taken without trial is one more reason why Nigerians should not return this dictator to power”.
Directive, declaration of war on voters, says Secondus
Similarly, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said that President Buhari’s directive amounts to a declaration of war on Nigerian Voters.
Secondus further described the marching order as inciting the military and police against the Nigerian people to cow voters.
Secondus, in a statement by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, pointed out that President Buhari in his desperation to cling on to power has given marching order to the Nigerian military and police to help leaders of the APC in cowing voters.
The PDP boss said that the “President’s remarks at caucus meeting of his party on Monday amounts to a declaration of war on Nigerian voters and a direct incitement against voters, the first of its kind in Nigeria, a president threatening the lives of her citizens.”
The national chairman said that by the president’s directive the top leaders of the APC have gotten sweeping order to move about with the military at their constituencies to harass and intimidate INEC staff and the opposition agents with a view to scaring them away to enable them use thugs to perform their result replacement strategy.
“Last Thursday, 48 hours to the rescheduled election the Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, entered Okirika in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State with a troop of soldiers moving like a General Commander, ostensibly to scare away voters whom he knew were not going to vote for his party.
“The president’s confirmation that he has directed the service chiefs to kill Nigerians is nothing but a pre-determined script hatched by the ruling party to create voter apathy and implement their result replacement plans using thugs protected by the military,” he said.
Secondus said that President Buhari has never been sincere in conducting a free and fair election, an impression he confirmed by his refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act which would have facilitated a credible polling in the country.
The PDP boss expressed shock that a commander-in-chief, “who has been out of action in numerous security challenges in the country particularly needless killings in Benue, Plateau, Zamfara etc. and whose regime has recorded unprecedented bloodletting in the country would suddenly wake up threatening brimstone to voters.
“In all democracies world over, elections are civil matter that is usually handled by civil security like police and wondered why the involvement of our military in this matter when they have enough security challenges to tackle.”
Democracy has become a victim of full blown dictatorship — Dogara
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, described President Buhari’s death threat to ballot box snatchers as a call for extra-judicial killings.
Addressing newsmen, Dogara, who is the technical adviser to PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, pointed out that democracy has become a victim of full blown dictatorship.
Dogara also noted that the Buhari presidency and the APC are doing everything humanly possible to discredit the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), remove the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and stall the process conscious of the fact that they cannot win the election.
Calling on the international community to note the statements credited to President Buhari and the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, Dogara denied the claim of Oshiomhole that the PDP was given prior notice of the postponement of the elections.
Lawyers condemn Buhari’s directive
Some lawyers have reacted to the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking to Daily Independent, the lawyers condemned the statement, saying it lends credence to charge that the president is a dictator in civilian garb.
According to Olusina Fasugba, a Lagos-based legal practitioner, the directive is ruthless.
He said, “That directive is ruthless. We are in a constitutional democracy, not a military dictatorship. This is a democracy that is governed by law.
“For the president to say if someone is caught snatching ballot boxes, the security agents should shoot the person on sight is to say the president has become law unto himself.
“The president has no power under the constitution to order people to be shot on sight because they are committing an offence. What he should rather do is to enjoin the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities; that they should not act in ways that will derail the democratic process.
“If a person is caught committing an offence, what the law expects of the security agents is to arrest and prosecute the suspected offender – whom the law even presumes innocent until proven guilty by a competent court.
“That is what the president should do if he really wants to show the world that he is committed to the democratic process. To order the shooting on sight of people caught snatching ballot boxes has no basis in law.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Mr. Leon Mbakwe, legal practitioner and President, Lawyers Against Corruption, a civil society organisation, said the president’s directive has no foundation in law.
He said, “It is very laughable. It shows the president does not understand that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy.
“Life has become so commonised by this president. President Buhari does not understand the concept of rule of law and due process.
“To order the shoot on sight of any person caught snatching ballot boxes is barbaric. This lends credence to the charge that the president is an incorrigible dictator and tyrant.
“He has reduced Nigeria to a jungle where life is poor, nasty, brutish and short. The president seems to be saying that all other institutions that make up the country’s criminal justice system should go to hell.”
•Excerpted from a Daily Independent report
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