Elections: President Buhari’s Directive Against Ballot Snatchers In Order – CODER

The Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), says the order of President Muhammadu Buhari to security agencies on ballot snatching should not be misunderstood, as it is stated within the context of the law.

The Executive Director, CODER, Dr Wunmi Bewaji, made the remark while addressing issues relating to the rescheduled Feb. 23 polls at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos.

Buhari had at the caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, said security agencies had been given the go-ahead to “deal ruthlessly” with ballot snatchers.

The President warned that anyone who engages in ballot box snatching during the rescheduled elections does so “at his own personal expense.”

Bewaji said that ballot box snatching was a crime under the law and the security agencies had the power to arrest such an individual.

“The President’s statement must be understood within the context of the law. The President might end up being right in certain regard.

“But par adventure in the process of arresting such an individual and the individual resists arrest, our criminal procedure law allows for the security agencies to use force and that might be fatal at the end of the day.

“I do not think the President is advocating for outright shooting of someone engaging in that criminality, ‘’Bewaji said.

On the postponement of the election, Bewaji said that CODER, an accredited election observer group, observed that INEC was clearly unprepared for the election.

According to him, INEC must do all within its power to fix the defects in its logistics chain which eventually led to the postponement of the election.

“This unpreparedness may not entirely be the fault of INEC but was perhaps due to the late approval of their budget by the National Assembly.

“INEC must however review its planning and logistics and ensure that they have fallback plans in case of unforeseen challenges,” he said.

Bewaji said that election materials, as reported by CODER field observers, started arriving at many of the states on Feb.15 with noticeable challenges in the overall logistics.

“Many voting materials were incomplete, from essential items like ballot papers and result sheets, to non-essential items like accreditation tags and official vests that INEC was supposed to give to election observers to do their work.

“CODER election observers also noticed that there were challenges trailing the submission of lists of party agents by various political parties.

“We also noticed poor morale among the ad-hoc staff engaged by INEC due to the inadequate arrangements for their welfare.

“CODER believes that this situation should be urgently addressed as it is capable of creating room for unnecessary compromise among these critical election personnel,” he said.

Bewaji urged INEC to find ways to restore the confidence reposed in it by the electorate in order to avoid voter apathy.

He noted that voters still turned out in many areas despite the postponement.

“This was not surprising considering the late hour of the postponement announcement. Voters were clearly prepared to come out in large numbers to exercise their civic duty.

“They must not be disenfranchised despite last week’s disappointment,” he said.

He, however called on all political parties to cooperate with INEC for a free, fair and peaceful election and refrain from making inflammatory statements and throwing unfounded accusations against INEC.

He commended security agents for keeping the peace, while urging them to provide adequate security throughout the election period.

Bewaji said that CODER had trained 380 field observers, all of whom had been deployed to their assigned states since Feb. 14. (NAN)

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