President Muhammadu Buhari said he has ordered the military and the Nigeria Police Force to be ruthless during the rescheduled elections against ballot-box snathchers.
Buhari, who expressed deep disappointment in the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the postponed polls also assured that the body would be probed after elections to know what really went wrong.
The presidential and National Assembly elections were postponed to February 23 from February 16 while state elections were postponed from March 2 to March 9.
Speaking at a caucuse meeting called by his party to review activities of the APC ahead of the rescheduled election, Monday at the party national secretariat, Buhari urged the party leaders to allow only loyal members to be APC agents during the elections.
“I do not expect anybody to cause any disturbance. The security agencies have identified hot spot and flash points and should be prepared to move. We have made as much arrangement as possible for them as much as the country can afford. Anybody who decide to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb the process, may be that will be the last unlawful action you will take.
“We have directed the military and other security agents to be ruthless. We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections.
“I want Nigerians to be respected and let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I am not afraid of that. I went round the 36 states and the FCT and I think I have enough support across the country to vote for me.
“So, I want to warn anybody who think he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life,” Buhari declared.
While expressing surprise at the INEC’s disappointment, president Buhari said the electoral umpire had all the time and all the resources they wanted and didn’t have to wait for only six hours to cancel the elections.
“Definitely, the reason why such incompetence manifested has to be explained to the Nation after the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible. Otherwise, our efforts to make sure that this system is acceptable would have been eroded.
“The constitution and the law protected INEC. But they must not take us for granted. If for example, the National Assembly refused to approve what they wanted, INEC would have had moral reasons why they couldn’t perform.
“If the time of four years of election was not constitutionally obeyed the government, INEC would have a case. But we don’t understand the reason for this inefficiency and we have to go into details after the election to find out who is responsible.”
In his welcome address, the national chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole accused the electoral commission, INEC, of working in cahoot with the main opposition party, PDP.
Oshiomhole said he could swear with holy Qur’an that the electoral body informed the PDP before the postponement of election was announced.
“I shall put my hand on the holy Qur’an to swear that INEC shared information with the PDP that they were going to postpone elections.”
The APC national chairman, who said the party will write a letter to INEC for more a meeting, also demanded that some Resident Electoral Commissioners should be redeployed.
Meanwhile, Blueprint correspondent observed the conspicuous absence of the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha and his Ogun state counterpart Ibikunle Amosun.
Both Okorocha and Amosun, who are currently embattled with the party leadership, had vowed not to support the governorship candidates of APC in their respective states.