Between SnatchAndDie Threat And The Brutish Clampdown License On Nigerians By Gabriel Ogunjobi

Before unawareness is by any chance given credence, let it be sacrosanct that ignorance of law excuses no one (Ignorantia juris non excusat) and be made the resonating highpoint in the realest sense of this ballot SnatchAndDie directive against the Nigerian people by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

To borrow from the Freudian proposition, what again is not ignorable is the subconscious state of mind when President Buhari spewed that whosoever tries to disrupt the process of the country’s anticipated elections will risk his or her life.

To me, this is why it is so. Unlike different occasions in the past, the life threatening comment of the President was not a speech written –and – read body of content from any of the media aides and it can even so far be asserted that it was not rehearsed beforehand. If it be, perhaps, some lines would have expunged to avoid an eventual damage rocking it now. But, the harsh comment was absolutely typical of an erstwhile military dictator.

In the military lexicon, ‘resistance’ that being ‘shoot to kill’ in an ordinary sense, is not a novel term. The military personnel are professionals and their conversations are hosted in the midst of brutality, even in the pursuit for peace. What irony, anyway!  

If I will be slightly permitted to do, I may say that soldiers rarely have time for diplomacy. And, you can relate it to many instances. That is why the institution is not engaged in some circumstances lest the narrative is changed entirely. In their own colony, the chorus of Operations “Python dance” as in Nigeria; “Desert Storm” as in United States; and “Barbarossa” named after an Emperor as in Germany are hobbies.

To put in accurate perspective, here is what Mr. President abundantly harped on at the emergency NEC meeting of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC on February 18, 2019: 

“Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe 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”.

This inflammatory statement came around the period the country ought to be strategizing – or, assumed to be dealing with (already) –  how best to deal with the abrupt shift in the 2019 Presidential/National Assembly polls by the electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – an electioneering process ordained to be historic being the first after 20 years of democratic rule.

Despite jettisoning the title of General after his democratic emergence, the body language President Buhari gave the Nigerians and international observers alike is suffice to say: ‘My uniforms are never rumpled and in fact more fitted for me than the sparkling white babariga I wear now.’ Because it’s the man in khaki we know gives no respect to the provisions of the law and can go the extent deserving to achieve something regardless of whose sore is gored.

The gesture was quickly and expectedly appraised by the die-hard supporters of the President within the Presidency and outside it. One significant of such that is reckonable is owned by the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari and shared in multiple times among the camp of supporters. 

In a somewhat validation of the personality of her hubby, Mrs. Buhari captioned the trendy video (of what the President said about ballot snatchers) in atweet thus: ‘This is GMB taking Nigeria to the Next Level’. GMB to mean General Muhammadu Buhari. 

Here is the crux. No one is expected in this case to know the innate features of the 76-year-old man better than the wife. No one within in the Presidency or among the cheerleaders outside would have spent more times – without the exception of the other room – with the President than the wife. So, don’t be hasty to discredit her use of ‘General’ into being a pardonable oversight. However, the reawakening that comes with the resurrection of the military title is alarming. 

Perhaps, before launching the inflammatory statement, Buhari was unaware of these two things:

One, that section 128 of the Electoral act says ‘a maximum of 500,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment or both is the reprimand for anyone who incites violence and Section 129 (4) adds that anyone who snatches or destroys any election material commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment’ and death does not surface as the punishment. Or, the Army is not engaged in such circumstance lest the narrative is changed.

The narrative is changed instantly because what is a ‘dance’ to the military – like the aftermath of a Python dance in the East around 2017 – incites fear and violence to electorates and poses a threat to franchise.

Two, that he was first benefactor of what seems to be free, fair and transparent election in 2015. This, again, is evident when the then President Goodluck Jonathan made an outpouring statement at the nearing of his election that no live of Nigerian is worth his ambition. He stood by same when he refused to challenge the results of the Presidential election standing to sack him out of office and even added an icing to that cake for Buhari, who was to come in, with a gracious congratulatory call – incurring a never fully-paid debt for any ousted President in Nigeria.

Now, President Muhammadu Buhari has till Friday, February 22, to correct all mistakes in speech and gesture and pay back the debt his predecessor incurred on his behalf – to ensure election void of violence. The SnatchAndDie directive is only poised to tactically incite fear and cause an eventual disenfranchisement. The 59-minute election postponement already set the country on edge, this fresh inflammatory comment will further and permanently sabotage the electioneering process for the nation.

From: Gabriel Ogunjobi, a freelance reporter

Phone number: 08060281077


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