By Emma Amaize
WARRI— PAN Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Army to shoot on sight anyone found snatching ballot boxes during the elections as a call for jungle justice.
The South-South body in a statement by its National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, urging Niger Deltans to vote for Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on next tomorrow’s polls, said: “PANDEF also strongly objects to the reported directive by President Muhammadu Buhari asking the Army to shoot anyone found snatching ballot boxes during the rescheduled elections.”
“This directive by Mr. President is quite unfortunate, condemnable and unacceptable as it is capable of being manipulated against innocent voters by overzealous political opponents.
“It is a call for jungle justice. Snatching of ballot boxes is a violation of the laws of the land, and the law should take its full course, and not to call for jungle justice.”
PANDEF urged the people of the South-South to “turn out en masse on Saturday and remain irrevocably committed to casting their votes for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in tandem with his overwhelming national endorsement by the Nigerian Elders and Leaders Forum.”
He said the Forum, comprising Afenifere (South-West); Ohanaeze Ndigbo (South-East); PANDEF (South-South); Middle Belt Forum (Middle Belt); and the Northern Elders Forum (North) chose Atiku for his “demonstrated willingness and capacity to drive the much desired restructuring of this country, along the lines of fiscal federalism, equity, justice, security and sanctity of lives and property.”
“We implore all our people to also turn out on March 9 to cast their votes for only candidates that would be committed to meeting the shared yearnings and aspirations of the Niger Delta region. They should not be distracted or intimidated by the antics of those who do not mean well for the region,” it said.
PANDEF pleaded that the rescheduling of the Presidential and National Assembly elections should not deter the people this Saturday.
,The group said “We know the inconveniences would be enormous, but it is the sacrifice we all have to make for the advancement of democracy in Nigeria, and the betterment of our country and region.”
It, therefore ,called on the peoples of the Niger Delta region, to remain peaceful and resolutely committed to exercising their civic franchise of choosing the nation’s political leaders on the rescheduled dates of Saturday the 23rd February and Saturday 9th March 2019, for Presidential and National Assembly Elections, and Governorship and House of Assembly Elections, respectively.
The group also asked “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take adequate steps to check the logistics challenges and observed lapses that led to the postponement,”
“We further implore the leadership of INEC not to succumb to pressures from undemocratic forces determined to undermine the nation’s democracy. INEC should remain committed, as it has promised the nation and the world, to conducting elections that are free, fair and credible, and whose outcomes would be true reflections of the will of the people of Nigeria.
“PANDEF further calls on the International Community to note the undemocratic disposition and actions of the President Buhari- led Federal Government, and appeals to them to stand with the Nigerian people in defense of democracy in Nigeria through the conduct of free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections.
“Finally, PANDEF urges the military and security agencies in the country to be impartial, and remain loyal to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, throughout the electoral process,” the statement added.