Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has reacted strongly against the alleged call by President Muhammadu Buhari on ballot box snatching during the general elections.
President Buhari on Monday in a meeting with All Progressives Congress (APC) causus, had said that he has given a directive to both the Police and Army to deal ruthlessly with anyone caught snatching a ballot box, telling the APC causus gathering that:
“Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, may be 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 anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch box or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life” he said.
Speaker Dogara while condemning the statement credited to the President, said such a directive on ballot box snatchers is a call for extra-judicial killings, and a clear indication that Nigeria’s democracy has become the victim of a full blown dictatorship.
Speaker Dogara said he wondered why despite adequate provisions in the laws to address electoral offenses, a democratically elected President would give a directive that is in clear violation of the laws of the land which by his oath of office he is to defend and protect.
“This press briefing is to call the attention of well meaning Nigerians and the international community to the incendiary statements made by President Muhammadu Buhari, and Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national caucus of their party, earlier today.”
Dogara continued by saying that “These statements clearly indicate that our democracy has become the victim of a full blown dictatorship, when one considers that a democratically elected President would give a directive that is in clear violation of the laws of the land which by his oath of office he is to defend and protect.”
Going further, the speaker noted that in view of this statement by the president, it is obvious that the military has been given a central role and coopted into the conduct of the election despite the fact that they have no constitutional role in our electoral process.
He also debunked claims by Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was given prior notice of the postponement of the elections, describing it as false and unnecessary blackmail.
Refuting the allegation, Hon Dogara said, “In this context, we categorically deny these false claims and unnecessary blackmail and regard the President’s statement as a call for extra-judicial killings considering the fact that there are adequate provisions in our laws to address electoral offenses.
“It should be noted that our party chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, was the first to call for an inquiry into why the elections were postponed last Saturday. In reality, we support a genuine and transparent probe into why the presidential and National Assembly elections could not hold. We also hope that the president’s inflammatory statement is not a threat aimed at intimidating the electoral commission.
“We also strongly condemn Mr. Oshiomole’s false, mischievous and inflammatory claims against our party, when he said INEC colluded with PDP to abort last week’s elections. This is a very surprising statement considering the fact that the Federal government controls every institution and agency involved in the electoral process, including the CBN, Nigerian Airforce, Aviation authorities amongst others.
“From our position, we strongly believe that the deliberate delivery of election materials to the wrong electoral centres, cancellation of flights, and other actions that undermined the logistics arrangement of INEC were deliberately done to sabotage and manipulate the process.
“We are also very familiar with the pressure brought on INEC by top government officials and APC leaders to go ahead with the elections despite not being adequately prepared for the election.
We are also aware the APC wanted the INEC chairman to conduct elections in some states and postpone in other states so as to have staggered elections. It should also be noted that the areas that would have been affected by inadequate delivery of materials were PDP strongholds
“It is important to note that the APC in its usual manipulative style is now shifting the blame on INEC leadership while absolving itself and the other institutions of government under its control of any blame.That is the common strategy that super villains always employ.”
The speaker added that they are aware that APC is doing everything humanly possible to discredit INEC, remove the chairman and stall the process because it is conscious of the fact that they cannot win this election.
Their recent actions and statements, he continued, clearly show they are panicking and desperate to cling onto power, even when the people have rejected them, and being the first time a ruling party would be playing victim, it is a clear indication that they have lost the plot.
“Opinion polls conducted by the APC, and other international agencies clearly indicate that the APC will lose this election, anytime it is conducted; we believe that is why they are resorting to desperate measures of arm-twisting the electoral commission, undermining the entire process and planning to unleash terror on the country.
“Let it be known that the PDP, with the support of every well meaning Nigerian, will employ every legitimate means to resist attempts by the APC and the Federal government to undermine and compromise the electoral process and truncate our democracy.
“The PDP believes in a united and democratic Nigeria and will continue to do all within its means to protect the country, her people and constitution from undemocratic elements,” he stated, while calling on all Nigerians not to despair, but turn out en mass on Saturday to vote and defend their votes.
“We also urge the international community and their observers that are in the country to monitor the election and be vigilant because their presence as impartial arbiters is important in ensuring we have peaceful, credible, free, fair and transparent elections. The security agencies are also enjoined to be impartial and remain loquat to the constitution of the Federal Republic,” the speaker said.