The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, of planning to derail the electoral process and throw the nation into political crisis.
The PDP was reacting to a statement credited to Buhari’s threat to those planning to hijack ballot boxes and disrupt the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday.
At a caucas meeting of the APC in Abuja on Monday, President Buhari said: “Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take… I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless.”
In a swift reaction to the speech by the president, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Buhari resorted to threat having realised that he would lose the election. His words: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s threat to the lives of Nigerians at the opening of APC’s national caucus meeting in Abuja today is a direct call for jungle justice and attempt to divert public attention from their closed session where details of their dastardly plot to truncate our democratic process will be perfected”.
“We do hope that this call by President Buhari is not a camouflage for the fake soldiers mobilized by the APC to shoot at innocent Nigerians, snatch ballot boxes and execute their rigging plans on the election day. It is indeed a license to kill, which should not come from any leader of any civilized nation.
“President Buhari must however bear in mind that his resort to threats and scaremongering will not deter Nigerians from coming out en masse to vote him out of office on February 23.”
Ologbondiyan also accused Buhari of mounting pressure on the electoral commission to cancel elections in some states so as to achieve a staggered election. He said the president has asked INEC to reshuffle resident electoral commissioners (RECs) in order to pave way for the return of the APC government.
“Intelligence available to us shows that the Buhari Presidency has directed the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately reshuffle the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in order to deploy compromised officials to manipulate the electoral process in President Buhari’s favour, as they did with the police shortly before February 16,” he said.
“Our party is also aware of the pressure being mounted by the Buhari Presidency on INEC to cancel elections in some states and make others inconclusive so as to achieve President Buhari’s objectives of a staggered election not minding the crisis such will trigger across the federation.
The PDP called on Nigerians and the international community to hold Buhari responsible for any electoral crisis.
“We want Nigerians and the international community to hold President Buhari personally responsible for any electoral crisis, otherwise he will as usual, claim that he was not aware of the plots and transfer the blame to Adams Oshiomhole and Rotimi Amaechi,” he said.
“It is already known that President Buhari has been unrelenting in his attempts to subdue our democracy by trying to subjugate the legislature, emasculate the judiciary and seize control of the electoral umpire.
“Nevertheless, the PDP wants to assure President Buhari that our nation is bigger than him and that Nigerians will never allow him and the APC to rig this election.”
Recall, that Buhari had said the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had questions to answer over the postponement of the general election.
Barely six hours to the presidential and national assembly elections on Saturday, INEC announced postponement of the exercise — blaming this on logistics issues. Reacting during his party’s caucus meeting on Monday, Buhari said the electoral umpire had all the resources it needed to carry out its duties.
“I have to leave my constituency and come to Abuja immediately, because I was told of the decision of INEC about 4:30 in the morning,” he said.
“I told them in my statement at the airport that INEC had all the time and all the resources they wanted and then they have to wait for only six hours to casting the votes to tell us that it is not possible. Definitely, the reasons why such incompetence manifest itself has to be explained to the nation.”
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