The President has ordered security operatives to “deal ruthlessly” with anyone who attempts to snatch ballot box during the rescheduled general elections next Saturday, February 23, 2019.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this declaration while addressing a meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus in Abuja before the discussions went into a closed-door session. Immediately the President made the comment, he was greeted with great applause from members of the APC Caucus who were in attendance.
The President said he had ordered security agencies to prepare to crack down on potential trouble makers during the rescheduled elections.
He warned, “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.
”He added, “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.”
The President also vowed to put machinery in place to unravel the circumstances that led to the postponement of the 2019 General Elections which was earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 16 and March 2nd 2019.
President Buhari wondered why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would come up with the excuses it gave for postponing the elections when it had all the time and resources to conduct the elections.
Recalling his first reaction to the postponement, the President said, “I think my statement at the airport said it all and I don’t want to go into too many details.
“I told them that INEC had all the time and all the resources they wanted; they didn’t have to wait for only six hours to cancel the votes and tell us that it was impossible.
”We have to go into details to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible after the elections,” the President said.
He added that the decision by INEC would have been excusable if the National Assembly did not approve the funds required for the elections.
“Definitely, the reasons why certain incompetence manifested itself has to be explained to the nation. After the election, we have to know exactly what happened, and who is responsible; otherwise our efforts to make sure that this system that we voluntarily accept, is not making progress. What is the use if we accept incompetence?” he asked.
The announcement by INEC postponing the elections, few hours to the opening of polls last Saturday, had sent shock waves across the country and beyond.
Political parties, local and international observer missions expressed dissatisfaction over the decision by INEC while calling for calm and urging Nigerians to exercise patience over the development.