By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Presidency on Tuesday accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP of being jittery over the orders by President Muhammadu Buhari to security agencies to deal ruthlessly with anybody that attempts to snatch ballot boxes during the forthcoming elections.
The Presidency also reiterated President Buhari’s comment that anyone who dares to snatch ballot boxes during next weekend’s elections will be doing this for the last time, saying it should be seen as a strong message against the long history of savagery associated with elections in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, recalled some past elections in parts of Nigeria, during which innocent voters lost their lives while ballot boxes were being snatched by armed thugs.
He said the President had the safety and security of Nigerians uppermost in mind when he made the comment, and should be praised rather than criticized for issuing this stern warning to potential ballot box snatchers.
Shehu further expressed concern about those attacking the president’s comment, and their worry over the fate of anyone caught snatching ballot boxes.
Acording to him, “This sounds like members of the opposition, specifically the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who have perfected plans to rig the elections and to snatch ballot boxes. They can tell that President Buhari is not prepared to tolerate their antics this time around, and they are afraid. They have shown their intent.”
The presidential spokesperson noted that no one had anything to fear from the President’s comments if their conscience and intentions were clear.
He said, “Let’s just have free and fair elections and no one need worry about anything.
“Snatching ballot boxes often entails putting the lives of innocent Nigerians at risk. About 10 years ago, evidence was brought before an election tribunal from one of the states in North Central of the gruesome killing of 26 prospective voters by ballot box snatchers.
“Their modus operandi is well known. They storm election venues in commando style, overwhelm the law-enforcement agents and seize ballot boxes leaving a trail of death and injury.”
Continuing, he said, “Anyone who dares to put the lives of innocent citizens at risk in their desperation to rig elections must be prepared for the possibility of losing their own lives because our security agents will certainly not stand by, clap for them and watch them kill and maim.”