Snatching ballot box will spell end for culprit, Presidency insists

THE Presidency on Tuesday insisted that anyone who dares to snatch ballot boxes during this weekend’s elections will be doing this for the last time.

President Muhammadu Buhari had during the National Caucus meeting of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, directed the military to deal ruthlessly with anyone who snatches ballot boxes during the election.

Speaking to State House Correspondents on Monday, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the order should be seen as a strong message against the long history of savagery associated with elections in the country.

He recalled that there were some 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.”

The presidential aide added: “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.”

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According to him, 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.

He further stated: “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 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.