Politics, Africa

Nigeria: Electoral board could face tough questions

President also says security agencies were told to deal 'ruthlessly’ with people trying to manipulate ballots

18.02.2019
Nigeria: Electoral board could face tough questions

Lagos

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS Nigeria

Nigeria's electoral commission will have to explain in detail why it delayed the country's general elections early last Saturday, just hours before they were set to begin, according to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking in the capital Abuja on Monday at a national caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Buhari said there were many questions for the commission to answer but the investigation would wait until after both rounds of general elections are concluded in March.

“Definitely the reasons such incompetence manifested have to be explained to the nation. After the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible,” he said.

“The constitution and the laws protect INEC [Independent National Electoral Commission] but they must not take us for granted.”

He added: “We have to move into details after the election to find out who’s responsible.’’

Citing “logistics and operational” problems, early last Saturday Nigeria's electoral body postponed the country's presidential and parliamentary elections for a week, amid reports that polling materials were unavailable in many places.

Presidential and National Assembly elections are now set for Saturday, Feb. 23, and governor and state assembly elections for March 9.

Buhari also warned of dire consequences to anyone who steals ballot boxes or tries to manipulate the polls, saying the security agencies have the power to deal with such threats.

“Anybody who decides to snatch ballot boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action he would take… I have directed the police and the military to be ruthless,” he said.

The statement drew a mixed response, with the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying Buhari was calling for the summary execution of citizens.

APC national leader Bola Tinubu said the PDP had misinterpreted the president's statement.

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