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Yoruba youths group backs Buhari over comments on ballot box snatchers

The Progressive Yoruba Youths (PYY) has reportedly supported President Muhammadu Buhari’s strict measures put in place against Nigerians plotting to jeopardise the forthcoming elections by snatching ballot boxes.

President Buhari had on Monday, February 18 said anyone caught in the act of ballot box snatching, will do so at the cost of their lives.

“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb, it may be that [this will be] the last unlawful action you will take,” Buhari had said.

The president’s strict statement, however, attracted widespread criticisms from some Nigerians and opposition parties who opine that electoral offenders should be punished only according to the dictates of the Electoral Act.

The PYY, a Yoruba youth group, however, supported President Buhari’s strict measures, the Independent reports.

The group’s support was made known in a press statement released by its national president, Kola Salawu.

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The Yoruba youth group said the president’s declaration was a wake-up call to security agencies to be unrelenting and decisive in dealing with potential ballot box snatchers.

The PYY explained that the target wasn’t innocent, law-abiding Nigerians but miscreants allegedly sponsored by lead opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The statement reads, “Once these ballot boxes have been snatched the result written under the supervision of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta, Ogun State would have then been substituted for the actual votes in the stolen ballots. As part of the scheme, the PDP has compromised some corrupt senior officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who would have gone ahead to accept the pre-written results since they have pre-thumb printed ballot papers that match the fake results they were to declare.

“More than the angst at the prospect of their errand boys being killed in the course of snatching ballot boxes, the critics of President Buhari’s assertion are pained that their overall plans have been thrown into a shambles because the scheme to rig cannot be implemented in the absence of violence and ballot snatching.

“The pre-written result in custody of the compromised INEC officials will no longer tally with the vote cast once the ballot snatchers have been put out of commission. “We, therefore, see no reason for law abiding citizens to be concerned over the “snatch ballot box and die” comment. Those that had earlier signed up as ballot snatchers have the option of refunding the amounts they have been paid to become cannon fodder.

They can also opt to hold onto the money they have been paid since it is not possible for the PDP chieftains that mobilized them to sue for breach of contract as an agreement entered into in pursuit of committing a crime is non-enforceable, especially when this particular deal is with the intention to tamper with Nigeria’s democracy.”

The group, however, also pointed out its position slightly differs from that of President Buhari, saying it is not enough to deal with only ballot box snatchers but also their sponsors.

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The statement continues: “It is however pertinent that we point out where our position slightly differs from that held by Mr President.

“It is not enough to decisively deal with ballot snatchers, who are mere puppets. It is pertinent that the hands manipulating the puppets are decisively dealt with.

“With the benefit of technology and forensics, law enforcement agencies should track down those that issued the order for ballot snatching and make them pay for their crimes against democracy and for insulting Nigerians in the worst way possible. So, we appeal to Mr. President to so direct law enforcement agents.

“We expected that the directive to security agencies to be ruthless should extend to those that carry out acts of violence in and around voting venues since there is an indication that PDP has also recruited thugs to prevent people from voting in areas that are not its stronghold.

“The point must be made for the PDP to understand that it does not have the monopoly of violence and that no individual, organisation or political party can match the sanctity of the state and its legitimacy to protect citizens.

“Law enforcement agencies must, therefore, be ready at all times to prove everyone wrong that the sovereignty of Nigeria cannot be negotiated with any band of miscreants.”