I have seen and read many reactions generated by many, consequent of the statement of the Grand Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria on ballot snatching. In case you are not up to date with the newest trend in the 2019 political scene, President Muhammed Buhari said and I quote: “Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action you would take.”
He further added, “I have given the military and police the order to be #ruthless. I am going to warn anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life.”
Yes! Your president said that, sadly. However, more saddening is the unforgivable fact that many – Buharians especially showered encomiums on the president for what can be called inciting violence.
To begin with, this kind of directive or ‘order’ as the President would like to call it can only be ‘still’ #inhumanely understood in two climes apart.
First, when there is a breakdown of law and order #owing #to #anarchy and there is a state of emergency. Yes! Security operatives tend to be proactive. But still, if we would still don our cap of sanity, ordering instant death penalty for an offence of this magnitude begs for our sense of justice and humanity.
And please, don’t come here to say it wasn’t an instant death penalty. “I have given the military and police the order to be #ruthless” already gives license to the already known-to-be-brutal and faceless security forces we have in the country.
The second instance, which best explains Mr. President is in a military regime. This is because military rules by decrees and combat almost everything with the use of force.
Since even the best attempt to rationalize Mr. President’s order can’t be found – Nigeria currently is relatively peaceful, not in a state of emergency and not in a military Era – it begs the question of why?
Not to forget, being a democratic republic, we operate a constitution that ought to be respected, though have been silently suspended by the new regime.
The Electoral Act of 2010 (as amended, 2014) in Section VII – Electoral Offenses 129 (4) stipulates that “Any person who snatches or destroys any election material commits an offense and is liable on conviction to 24months imprisonment.”
Now, accepted the president feels the punishment is too lenient, what happened to the legislative arm charged with lawmaking? If at all the law on ballot-snatching will be amended, is death penalty the best the president with a SAN as VP could come up with?
Believe it or not, the threat from the president is an intimidation message to voters. In the remaining of the speech made that day, the president believed he has done all he needs to win by visiting all the 36 states. What that will effectively do is reduced the number of potential voters across the country.
I was reading on someone’s wall not too long and according to him, if you have no plans to steal a ballot box, why should you be scared?
My friend, you’ve got a lot to be scared of. Even as peaceful as the nation is relatively at, reports of ‘accidental discharge’, life-terminating shootings for very petty incidences, offences and events are rife, the latest being the one involving the custom. Now, with the license, they have got the protection to discharge at will with peace.
In any case, if the discharge is mistaken. Put differently, if you’re mistakenly shot, you can be guilty in the end, even in death. How? All they need to do is place a ballot box beside you, then take a picture. You’ll only be unrealistic to say it’s not possible. And as the dead doesn’t argue with the living, you’re gone for good if a victim.
From hitherto projected postulations, I have always maintained that this election will record a heavy low turnout. Bar fake ballots, underage voting, inflation and votes figures manipulation, the total votes cast can hardly go beyond 15m to 17m
There are two excuses for that already, beyond the regular apathy.
1. The postponement on the supposed election date. The various people who had hitherto travelled to their Polling Unit would have returned to their respective place of work by now. Travelling back again, not all who made the first trip would embark on a second. ONCE BITTEN; TWICE SHY is a maxim we hold dear
2. The inverted shoot-on-sight for ballot snatcher death order-cum-threat. This, most definitely will make many stay at home. At least, shooting won’t come inside homes except insurgency.
As I can’t see an unrigged election in Nigeria yet, this will be rigged as well. And with very low turnout, votes will be inflated to match up expected figures. Say for example, the total votes expected of Kano is 4m, and only 1.2m voted. Inflation would definitely be more than just an option and 3.5m will be dished out as the factual figure. I hope this doesn’t happen though, but I see not yet how it won’t.
I haven’t disturbed my sweet night sleep to pen this with the mindset of creating voter apathy or fear in you. This is merely a reality check as to the possible consequences of Mr. President’s ‘brave’ statement over ballot-snatchers. The threat isn’t for only those with the tendency to steal, anyone could be mistaken and gunned down. Thus, the directive or order as it may, ought to be reversed since the constitution has provision for ballot snatching to give the electorates a reassured safe return while performing their civic duty.
MI ~ SPY