EDITORIAL: Buhari’s order to kill ballot box snatchers, our view at Emerald Media Group

On Monday, there was uproar across the nation and the social media was heavily awashed with criticism as many Nigerians and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) attacked President Muhammadu Buhari over the draconian order to the military and police to shoot and kill any Nigerian thug who dare snatch ballot boxes and disrupt the 2019 elections.

Looking at the order on its face value, it will bring decency to the system and allow the elections to be conducted without youths resorting to ballot box snatching and even engaging in any violent action. Elections will go smoothly unhindered by dare devil youths who are loyal to political parties and wish to ensure their party’s victory at all cost.

Facts available to Emerald media indicate that some politicians have already acquired guns to be distributed to youths on the election day. And it is certain that with the wave of campaigns and preparedness of the two major parties, anything should be expected on the election day across the country from both political divides.

Nigeria elections over the years have been bedeviled with ballot box snatching leading to declaration of results that do not reflect the votes cast at the election ground. Youths invade election with guns, scare voters and INEC adhoc staff away and snatch ballot boxes to designated areas for thumb printing, resulting in the supposed loser winning with unquantifiable figure against the supposed winner, judging by number of genuine votes cast at the election.

So, in our view, the order, on its own, will bring some level of decency and sanity to the process and ensure accurate votes are counted and the actual winner will emerge. Our argument here, is, however, based on a free, fair and egalitarian society where it is believed that anybody who is voted by the people is the one they wanted to win without recourse to making it a do or die affair.

But in a country like Nigeria where President Muhammadu Buhari has boldly said that nobody could unseat him from office, one can now tell what he plans to do if he is voted out by the Nigerian people. Again, the Nigerian electoral law does not permit police and soldiers to kill any Nigerian who snatches ballot boxes, though it is a criminal offense. The law stipulates number of years the ballot snatcher should be jailed and not instant death as ordered by General Buhari.

Ordinarily, President Buhari should have ordered the military and police to be firm and arrest anyone found snatching ballot boxes and get them, their sponsors and the party they represent prosecuted for violating the electoral law. Buhari’s order seems to have made the president taking laws into his hands and promulgating decrees as he did during his days as a military dictator.

Buhari who said he has left the past, noting that he is a converted general, is seen to still be struggling with putting off the coat of the military and becoming a civilian leader. The military blood is still flowing in his veins and is hard to pull off.

One thing is that the Nigerian security apparatus is known for overzealousness and as such since the president has given the marching order, innocent Nigerians definitely will be killed and the crime will always be they were snatching or they attempted to snatch ballot boxes and the case is closed. By this decree, Buhari has ordered killings of Nigerians, the people he, as the nation’s chief security officer, is expected to protect as one of the biggest functions of government all over the world.

Another issue of serious concern to Nigerians is the fairness with which the decree will be executed. Every Nigerian is aware that the President Buhari’s APC controls every apparatus of government including the military, the police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and other paramilitary institutions. What we are saying here is that there is certainly going to be partiality in the execution of the massacre order.

Nigerians are of the belief that the security agencies will spare APC agents and go after PDP followers as evident in the Osun and Ekiti states elections where the opposition PDP members were systematically coerced by the military officers during the elections. This is one of the biggest fear in the order of President Muhammadu Buhari. The military has been protective of the APC agents in all their dealings and one may not be said to have raised false alarm as the security agents have been known to be sympathetic to the ruling APC.

It is therefore our belief at Emerald media group that President Buhari is going beyond the powers of the president, relegatimg to the background other arms of government as less important.

Already, the Nigerian military authorities have said that since Buhari has given the order, it will be executed totally and effectively. And no one should take the army as jokers. They mean what they said. This is the country we find ourselves.

Every Nigerian therefore need be careful as we go for the elections. Vote for the party and the individual you wish. The election should not be party based but individuals who you think have good programmes for the overall good of all Nigerians.

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