Buhari: Of The Echoes and the Dust Behind His “Ballot Box Snatcher” Theory, by Hammed J. Sulaiman


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The words’ war began, between the elites and the proletarians, between the advocates and the adversaries, in a glimpse after President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday 18th significantly said, death awaits ballot box snatchers during the February 23rd Presidential and National Election. Robust! There were bullets shot on every Nigerians’ chests and made them to think of viability of life, not necessarily thinking of the intent and meaning behind his meaning; making some to be jolly and some to be hellish.
Well, this shouldn’t have come into existence if not of the 16th rescheduled election that made the President to have an emergency national caucus meeting with his party in reviewing the poll delay and discuss other plans by the party ahead of the elections on Saturday. But amidst his train of words that also bordered on his confidence, the issue of life screwed it all by him imputing “at the expense of his own life” behind his statement like-threat on anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system.
But why so much outrageous and media hullabaloo in hurly-burly? Or has President turned General, taking advantage of his “Commander-in-Chief of the Arm Forces”? That his statement sexed and impregnated Nigeria and Nigerians not knowing what could be born come 23rd February. Whether he referred to “extra-judicial” killing or “riot”. Though it appeared like a warning, caution, advice, counsel but all in all, the sack encapsulating it all appeared to be threat!
Some Nigerian Legal Firewoods also took their course, with prejudice and without prejudice to Nigerians at large, perusing the law and citing section 33(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended that “A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this Section, if he dies as a result of the use to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law of such force as is reasonably necessary: (a) For the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property; (b) In order to effect a lawful arrest to or to prevent the escape of a  person lawfully detained; or (c) For the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.”
Ought we not believe that Section 33(1) of the Constitution that guarantees right to life had not been taken into consideration, which enshrined that, life can only be terminated in accordance with due process of law; The due process of law includes the execution of death sentence by a court of law or tribunal , or during insurrection or war , or acting in self -defence. Real riot awaits us, disruption of electoral process awaits us, when not only Arm Forces be killing “Ballot Box Snatchers” but also by private persons who could turn Arm Forces to effect lawful arrest or suppress or who could turn themselves to Arm Forces in defending Ballot Boxes as their personal property as encapsulated in section 33(2)!
But wait; why also adversaries gone and going mad like wet hens? Have they prepared to station “Ballot Box Snatchers” across the country’s polling units? They have gone to the extent, extent of crossing rubicon that threat and death is what Buhari meant by imputing “at the expense of his own life” which can be twinned to “at the risk of your own life”. Well, maybe another meeting could be held before 23rd election for Buhari to rephrase that phrase in clarifying whether it is a complete threat, or a strong advice, or a mere caution and counsel.
The problem of that statement is because of its ambiguous nature, issuing to the minds of narrow thinkers to have ambiguous meanings in a single word of death – well, we don’t know what awaits us maybe people would die like fowls, when battle ensues between the “Ballot Box Defenders” and the “Ballot Box Snatchers”, for that statement raised not ding-dong only in the hearts of the voters but also to the hearts of veteran gang-bangers to wheel to their preparedness. Only God can intervene! Nigeria.
Hammed J. Sulaiman
Poet/Essayist/Writer, a member of Pen Press Journalists (UDUS) and a Student of Law from the Most Peaceful University in Nigeria, UDUSOK.

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