Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara

Speaker Yakubu Dogara has faulted the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to security agencies to deal ruthlessly with anyone who may attempt to snatch ballot boxes during the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday.

Speaking at a national caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, Buhari had said, “Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, may be that would be the last unlawful action you would take.

“I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless. I am going to warn anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life”.

But addressing newsmen in Abuja on Monday, Dogara said the President’s directive to the military and the police amounted to a call for extra judicial killings of would- be electoral offenders.

The Speaker reminded the President there were adequate provisions in the nation’s laws to address electoral offences.

Dogara said: “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 coopted into the conduct of the election despite the fact that they have no constitutional role in our electoral process”.

Speaker Dogara described as false claims and unnecessary blackmail, a statement by the national chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, to the effect that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave the PDP prior notice of the postponement of the February 16 elections.

He recalled that the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus was the first to call for an inquiry into why INEC postponed the elections.

The Speaker added the PDP will support a genuine and transparent probe into why the presidential and National Assembly elections could not hold.

He expressed the hope that the President’s inflammatory statement was not a direct threat aimed at intimidating the electoral commission.

“We also strongly condemn Mr. Oshiomole’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.”

He added: “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.”

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