Kwara NLC, IPAC, electorate differ with Buhari over death for ballot box snatchers


By Mumini Abdulkareem, Mathew Denis and Kayode Adeoti

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kwara State and political parties leaders in the state have expressed divergent views to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that ballot box snatchers in the forthcoming general elections should be ready to pay with their lives.

Also, voters in the state who spoke on the issue kicked against the order vehemently, saying it is not constitutional.

Recall that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had expressed similar view with Kwara electorate, saying ballot box snatchers should be punished in accordance with electoral law.

Buhari, who is the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at a caucus meeting of the party in Abuja on Monday made the declaration.

However, in separate interviews with our reporters yesterday, the NLC Chairman, Comrade Yekeen Agunbiade said, “We expect the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to deal with ballot box snatchers in accordance with what the constitution spells out.

“This is not about ballot box snatchers alone but all criminal activities surrounding the elections which the punishment for culprits is clearly stated by the law,” he said.

Speaking further, Agunbiade however urged Nigerians to remain calm and be law abiding during Saturday’s elections.

In his response, the Chairman of Trade Union Congress in the state, Comrade Kolawole Olumoh said President Buhari should honourably apologise to Nigerians as his statement is autocratic in nature.

“The President with such volatile statement is not in any way trying to protect the voting process of ‘one man one vote’ from my perception.

“Perhaps, he should have tasked INEC and security agencies to do the needful by safeguarding the electioneering process through arrest and handing over culprits to the appropriate authority and not directing them to go ruthless,” he submitted.

In his response, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Engr. Kola Shittu described the order as unnecessary. According to him, there is existing provision that takes care of anybody that contravenes the electoral law.

“There is no need for the President to be ordering security agencies to be shooting people. I think it’s unnecessary for the President to do that. Such statement can scare voters away from coming out to participate in the polls. It is very undemocratic and I believe the armed forces will not take that step.”

Similarly, the Kwara State Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Comrade Mumini AbdulKareem Onagun said, The President, should allow the laws, the electoral act and constitution take its course and we want whatever will be done not to go outside these provisions.

“I  want to plead that we should all allow peace to reign during the Presidential/National Assembly and Governorship and House of Assembly elections.”

An electorate and political analyst, Yemi Adeyemi, said, “President Buhari has forgotten that we are not in the military era as such order can cause anarchy in the country. We agree that ballot box snatching has become a serious bane during elections in Nigeria but we must follow the law in addressing the issue.

“We operate democratic system of government where constitution is the grand norm of all behaviours, Buhari appears too harsh with the order and it should be discarded by our security operatives.”

Also, another resident of Ilorin, Jimoh Ibrahim said the President should retract the statement and tender unreserved apology to Nigerians.

“We deserve an apology over that order. I want to believe Buhari need to tell us he never meant what he said. I am APC card carrying member but my mind cannot be blind to what is wrong. The order was made in error,” Ibrahim noted.

Also lending voice on the issue is a civil servant in the state who simply identified herself as Mrs Adewale.

She said, “No one can make law or order on his own; any order that will be binding on the citizens must be pronounced by the court of law. If Buhari wants his statement to become and order, he can approach the court.”

For Rasheed Abdullateef, he believed Buhari gave the order without due consultation.

“The issue of ballot box snatching is a serious one and we understand that it has to be handled meticulously. In fact no penalty is too much for whoever is caught in the act but it must follow the tenet of the law. I don’t think any election is worth the life of any Nigerian,” Abdullateef divulged.

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