The Nigerian army said they will obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders to shoot anyone involved in ballot box snatching. This comes amidst already rising tensions in Nigeria. The elections that were postponed for a week by Buhari are now scheduled to take place this Saturday.
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has supported Buhari in saying ballot box snatchers must be dealt with according to provisions of the Electoral Act.
Ballot boxes, in hotly contested elections or in undemocratic countries, are often tampered with. While the idea of ballot box snatching may be unheard of in some countries, it has happened in the past. It is for this reason that Buhari has issued the warning.
Personnel of the Nigerian Army have been told to stay clear of any political campaigns. The army’s role is to escort VIPs. Part of the army’s role is also ensuring peace and dealing effectively with anyone tampering with the ballot boxes.
The Nigerian Army has been quick to respond that any involvement they have with the Nigerian election is to ensure their area peace, safety and a controlled environment for the voters.
There has been constant mudslinging between the two main contesters for the Nigerian Presidential elections – Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and the northern Nigerian Muslim leader Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress. The elections were postponed by the PDP, much to the dismay of the APC, who have accused them of political delay tactics.
The commander of the Nigerian Army, Lt. General T.Y. Buratai, has assured Nigeria of peace and calm. But he has also said they will be ruthless if there are ballot box snatchers and anyone who dares to do this will not have another opportunity.
In other words, the “shoot anyone” instruction will be obeyed.
There have been past elections in Nigeria where voters have died while ballot boxes were snatched by thugs. Nigerian elections do have a history of violence. While the rest of the world is watching Nigeria carefully, especially the US, Nigerians are impatient.
The voting should have taken place a last week only. Many potential voters spent much time and money making their way to voting stations, only for the vote to be postponed. Hopefully, ballot boxes will not be tampered with.