BY HENRY UMORU
Senator Olusola Adeyeye has reacted to the attacks on President Mohammadu Buhari for directing the military to be ruthless at ballot box snatchers. The Osun State senator backed the President, saying that ballot box snatchers were like armed robbers and deserve the penalty such criminals pay.
His reaction came after APC leader, Bola Tinubu tried to clear the air on what the President meant.
The President had said, “ I do not expect anybody to make any disturbance. I have briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military to identify hot spots, flash points; they should be prepared to move. They too would have made their own arrangements as possible and resources provided as much as the country can afford it.
“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb it (elections), maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take. I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless.
“We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected, let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I’m not afraid. As you said, I have gone round all the 36 states and Abuja. I think I have got enough support across the country.
“I am going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system, he would do it at the expense of his own life.”
Soon after the statement was made, and sensing criticisms that would trail it, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu tried frantically to defend the President when he said: “I was in that meeting; the President was just reinforcing the fact that if you are out there snatching ballot boxes, and causing destruction, you are at risk of your own life. Whatever happens to you, no President will give an order that his own citizens be shot summarily, No! No, emotions are running high these days. Any individual, including myself, can be misinterpreted.
“Shoot on sight are not his words; he is a law-abiding person and he understands categorically and clearly what the rule of law is and the lives of individual citizens. He knows that he is in that office to protect Nigerians. Now, let me say this: he has been fighting Boko Haram, kidnappers and all that before this election. Did you hear him asking them to be shot and executed summarily? If he has gone through that in the last five years, please give him the benefit of the doubt.”
The question now is if the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which was passed the fourth time in October last year was signed into law by the President, would there be need for the marching order since Act may have taken care of that?
When Saturday Vanguard sought his opinion on this, former governor of Yobe State and a serving Senator, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim said, “ it is ok for now, but he should not sign it into law, let him follow due process for inputs from the National Assembly and the public.”
On his part, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, APC, Osun Central said, “Ballot box snatchers are either armed or accompanied by armed hoodlums. As such, they should get the same ruthless treatment that armed robbers deserve from law enforcement agents. Such miscreants have only themselves to blame for seeking to deprive citizens of their unalienable rights.”
The Electoral Act (2010), however, does not in any way prescribe death for any electoral offence, just as the maximum sentence for snatching of ballot boxes is 24 months in prison.
According to Section 129 (4) of the Electoral Act, Any person who snatches or destroys any election material commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment.”
“In continuation, the Act stipulates that anyone who directly or indirectly engages in electoral violence shall be liable to three years in prison or a fine of N1m
Section 131. (1) states that “A person who directly or indirectly, by himself or by another person on his behalf, makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence or restrain;
(b) inflicts or threatens to inflict by himself or by any other person, any minor or serious injury, damage, harm or loss on or against a person in order to induce or compel that person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of such person having voted or refrained from voting; or
(c) by abduction, duress, or a fraudulent device or contrivance, impedes or prevents the free use of the vote by a voter or thereby compels, induces, or prevails on a voter to give or refrain from giving his vote,
(d) by preventing any political aspirants from free use of the media, designated vehicles, mobilisation of political support and campaign at an election, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N1,000, 000 or imprisonment for a term of three years.”
Also Section 33 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides that: 1) “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary –
(a) for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property: b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.