Nigeria elections: Presidency attacks PDP, backs Buhari’s threat to ballot box snatchers

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The Presidency on Monday reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that anyone who dares to snatch ballot boxes during Saturday’s elections will be doing this for the last time.

It said Buhari’s comment should be seen as a strong message against the long history of savagery associated with elections in Nigeria.

Buhari, while speaking at the All Progressives Congress, APC, caucus meeting on Monday, had warned that those planning to snatch ballot boxes during the elections would be doing such at the expense of their lives.

The President’s declaration had pulled reactions across the country, with the PDP saying such remark was a call for anarchy and jungle justice in the country.

Reacting to PDP’s comment, Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu accused PDP of being a self-appointed protector of ballot box snatchers.

Speaking to State House Correspondents on Monday, 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.

He said: “Snatching ballot boxes often entails 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. 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 explained that 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.

He further expressed concern about those attacking the President’s comment, and their worry over the fate of anyone caught snatching ballot boxes.

“This sounds 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,” he said.

The presidential spokesperson maintained 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 need worry about anything,” he said.

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