The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has warned that the order by President Muhammadu Buhari that the military should be ruthless in dealing with prospective ballot snatchers during the coming elections is an indication that Nigeria is back to full dictatorship.
Buhari, had while speaking during the national caucus meeting of the ruling APC in Abuja on Monday, declared that “Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb it (elections), maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take. I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless… I am 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 would do it at the expense of his own life.”
In view of this remark, Dogara addressed a press conference in Abuja to share the perspectives of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, pointing out that the President’s order is a call to extra-judicial killings, and is in clear violation of the laws of the land which Buhari swore to defend and protect.
He dismissed the claim by the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole, alleging that the PDP got advance notice for the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for last Saturday.
The Speaker stated: “In this context, we categorically deny these false claims and unnecessary blackmail and regard the President’s statement as a call for extra-judicial killings considering the fact that there are adequate provisions in our laws to address electoral offences.
“These statements clearly indicate that our democracy has become the victim of a full-blown dictatorship when one considers that a democratically elected President would give a directive that is in clear violation of the laws of the land which by his oath of office he is to defend and protect.
“In view of this statement by the president, it is obvious that the military has been given a central role and co-opted into the conduct of the election despite the fact that they have no constitutional role in our electoral process.”
Dogara, who alleged that there were deliberate actions to undermine the electoral body as he accused the APC of working towards a staggered election, said; “We also strongly condemn Mr Oshiomhole’s false, mischievous and inflammatory claims against our party when he said INEC colluded with PDP to abort last week’s elections. This is a very surprising statement considering the fact that the Federal government controls every institution and agency involved in the electoral process, including the CBN, Nigerian Airforce, Aviation authorities amongst others.
“From our position, we strongly believe that the deliberate delivery of election materials to the wrong electoral centres, cancellation of flights, and other actions that undermined the logistics arrangement of INEC were deliberately done to sabotage and manipulate the process.
“We are also very familiar with the pressure brought on INEC by top government officials and APC leaders to go ahead with the elections despite not being adequately prepared for the election.
“We are also aware the APC wanted the INEC chairman to conduct elections in some states and postpone in other states so as to have staggered elections. It should also be noted that the areas that would have been affected by inadequate delivery of materials were PDP strongholds.
“It is important to note that the APC in its usual manipulative style is now shifting the blame on INEC leadership while absolving itself and the other institutions of government under its control of any blame. That is the common strategy that supervillains always employ.
“Obviously, we know they are doing everything humanly possible to discredit INEC, remove the chairman and stall the process conscious of the fact that they cannot win this election.
“Embarrassingly, this is the first time that we have witnessed a ruling party play victim, which is a clear indication that they have lost the plot. Evidently, their recent actions and statements clearly show they are panicking and desperate to cling onto power, even when the people have rejected them.
“Also, opinion polls conducted by the APC, and other international agencies clearly indicate that the APC will lose this election, anytime it is conducted; we believe that is why they are resorting to desperate measures of arm-twisting the electoral commission, undermining the entire process and planning to unleash terror on the country.
“Finally, let it be known that the PDP, with the support of every well-meaning Nigerian, will employ every legitimate means to resist attempts by the APC and the Federal government to undermine and compromise the electoral process and truncate our democracy.
“The PDP believes in a united and democratic Nigeria and will continue to do all within its means to protect the country, her people and constitution from undemocratic elements.
“We call on all Nigerians not to despair, but turn out en masse on Saturday to vote and defend their votes. We also urge the international community and their observers that are in the country to monitor the election and be vigilant because their presence as impartial arbiters is important in ensuring we have peaceful, credible, free, fair and transparent elections. The security agencies are also enjoined to be impartial and remain loquat to the constitution of the Federal Republic.”