Man whose words are ‘laws’: Govt. echoes Buhari death sentence for election fraudsters
Nigeria’s Presidency has echoed President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to the military and police to ‘kill on sight’ anyone who dares to snatch ballot boxes in Nigeria’s rescheduled election.
Buhari’s statement was greeted with controversy and experts said Nigeria’s electoral laws do not stipulate death penalty for electoral fraud, rather a two-year imprisonment.
But the Presidency on Tuesday echoed Buhari’s statement, insisting that Buhari’s words have become laws that must be carried out to the later.
During his party’s caucus meeting on Monday, Buhari said he had ordered the military and the police to ensure that any ballot box snatcher meets his death. He added, “I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless. I am going to warn anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life.”
A statement from the Presidency said Mr Buhari’s comments should be seen as a strong message against the long history of “savagery associated with elections in the country.”
Others have supported the president, defending his comments as a strong message that will help curb the menace of electoral fraud. They also argue that ballot box snatchers are usually armed, and therefore, would only require a forceful response.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, recalled some past elections in parts of Nigeria, during which innocent voters lost their lives while ballot boxes were being snatched by armed thugs.
“Snatching ballot boxes often entails putting the lives of innocent Nigerians at risk,” he said. “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.
“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,” Mr Shehu said.
According to him, “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.”
He added that President Buhari had the safety and security of Nigerians uppermost in mind when he made the comment, and should be praised rather than criticised for issuing this stern warning to potential ballot box snatchers.
Shehu further expressed concern about those attacking the president’s comment, and their worry over the fate of anyone caught snatching ballot boxes.