Nigeria’s PDP blasts Buhari over election interference threat
President Muhammadu Buhari had harsh words for those who might derail the Nigerian presidential election rescheduled for Saturday, including leaders at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who gave just six hours’ notice at the weekend that the polls would remain closed.
What really concerned observers and prompted outcry from the leading opposition party, though, was his warning to all Nigerians who might consider interfering with the election.
“I really gave the military and the police orders to be ruthless. We’re not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections,” Buhari said during an Abuja emergency meeting of his All People’s Congress (APC) party. “I’m going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system, he’ll do it at the expense of his own life.”
The remark was swiftly condemned by the People’s Democratic Party, whose candidate Atiku Abubakar is Buhari’s main challenger in a field of dozens of candidates listed by the INEC. The PDP leadership said it regards Buhari’s statement as “a call for extrajudicial killings” that proves Nigeria is a dictatorship.
“It is obvious that the military has been given a central role and (is) co-opted into the conduct of the election despite the fact that they have no constitutional role in our electoral process,” the PDP said in its statement. The opposition party plans its own emergency meeting on Tuesday.
The APC and PDP are exchanging accusations about who is behind the postponement and manipulating the process, but they have both blasted the last-minute INEC decision that left Nigerians frustrated and angry.
The INEC said Monday that the parties can restart their campaigning during the delay but must stop at midnight Thursday ahead of the Saturday vote.