By Anthony Ogbonna
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has countered the latest warning by the Nigerian military, saying military has no role during elections. Atiku was countering the statement wherein the army warned that it would deal ruthlessly with anybody who dares snatch ballot boxes during coming Saturday’s general election.
The army’s warning is coming barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari had threatened that any party thug caught trying to snatch ballot boxes during election would pay with his or her life.
Buhari had warned saying, “I have briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military. They have identified the hot spots, flashpoints.
“They should be prepared to move. We have made as much arrangement as possible and resources provided as much as the country can afford.
“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb it, maybe this is the last lawful action you will take.
“I really gave the military and the police (order) to be ruthless. We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig election. I want Nigerians to be respected. Let them vote whoever they want across the parties.
“I am going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs or to disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life.”
Sequel to the threat by the President, the army, on Tuesday, issued its own warning that it would deal ruthlessly with anybody caught disrupting the election.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel, AMINU ILIYASU, had, via a statement, warned that the military would not show mercy to any political thug caught causing confusion or snatching ballot boxes on the day of election.
The army’s statement partly read, “…authorities of 6 Division NA wish to unequivocally state that anyone found to be disrupting the electoral process under any guise will be decisively dealt with in accordance with the laws no matter how highly placed he or she is.”
But countering the Nigerian army’s stance, the former Vice President and PDP’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming election, Atiku Abubakar faulted the army saying ‘boot and gun’ has no business in the country’s election.
Atiku, however, told the army that its role is to protect the territorial integrity of the country.
Atiku gave the statement on Tuesday during the party’s NEC meeting in Abuja.
Atiku who reiterated his earlier position that his political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, however urged President Buhari to reverse his death threat order on ballot box snatchers and make the same commitment of no blood-letting during elections like he(Atiku) has promised.
He reminded the army that its role is not in the conduct of elections but to protect the territorial integrity of the country.
According to Atiku, “You will recall that during the Peace Accord process, I stated in clear terms, quoting form former president Jonathan Goodluck, that my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“That man is a great man.
“Today I call on President Buhari to make that same commitment to the people whose mandate he holds, while also urging all security agencies to uphold our Constitution with an understanding that voting is a civil activity and civic responsibility.
“The Nigerian military is constitutionally responsible for protecting our territorial integrity and national borders and has no role to play in the conduct of elections.”