The Nigerian Army has reacted to a controversial statement issued by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday that all those planning to snatch ballot boxes may be carrying out their last illegal acts.
The comment is already generating heated debates in the polity with many saying the president’s statement is a veiled sanction to security operatives to kill (extrajudicially) those who run afoul of the electoral law.
The president made the statement at the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus meeting on Monday.
A leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has, however, defended the president saying President Muhammadu Buhari was ‘misinterpreted’.
The Electoral Act prescribes two years in jail, not death, for persons found guilty of snatching or destroying election materials.
Lawyers also argue that Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution gives instances where ”one may forfeit his/her life as a result of certain scenarios”.
The Nigerian Army on Monday added another twist to the debate when it told PREMIUM TIMES it will obey ‘totally and effectively’ such order if it is given by Mr Buhari.
“If Commander-in-Chief has given order to the Nigerian Army to that effect, be rest assured that order will be totally and effectively obeyed without any ifs or buts,” Army spokesperson Sagir Musa told PREMIUM TIMES when reached for comments about whether the military would review its rules of engagement if Mr Buhari gave an order for shooting of ballot box snatchers.
The Nigerian Army had earlier said it would deploy personnel for the elections, but only on contingent bases on the outer perimeter of communities rather than near polling units.