Although President Muhammadu Buhari has given the Military and the Police the power to be ruthless as ballot box snatchers because they commit the offence “at risk to their own lives”, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has expressed the belief that ballot box snatchers should be punished only in accordance with the electoral law.
Speaking in Abuja on Monday at a meeting of the national caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President had said those who influence ballot box snatching may find out it is their “last unlawful action”.
“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb, it may be that [this will be] the last unlawful action you will take,” Buhari had said.
“I rarely give the military and the police [the power] to be ruthless. We are not going be blamed but we won’t rig election. I want Nigerians to be respected; let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I’m not afraid of it.
“The whole 36 states in Nigeria, I went round. I think I have got enough support across the country to look after me. So I’m going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life.”
When these comments were brought to the INEC Chairman on Tuesday as he addressed the media on the preparedness of his commission for the rescheduled polls, Yakubu said: “The position of the commission is that all violators of the Electoral Act should be punished according to the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Yakubu also denied reports that Okechukwu Ibeanu, the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of logistics, was invited by the Department of State Services (DSS).
“No commissioner of the commission was picked up by any security agency no house of any commissioner of INEC was raided; no any commissioner of INEC has been picked by the security agency,” he said.
“The particular commissioner you are referring to, whose name was mentioned on social media, is as we speak currently in his office in the commission. Similarly, no six directors were picked up by any security agency. All decisions on the administration of the commission are taken by the commission as an independent, constitutional body. We will continue to protect and jealously guard our independence.”