Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, has defended President Muhammadu Buhari over the death threat he issued to ballot box snatchers.
At the national caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Tuesday, Buhari ordered security agencies to deal ruthlessly with election riggers.
He told those plotting to hijack electoral materials that it could be their last attempt to do so.
The president’s comment had generated different reactions, with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying the president had given security agencies the licence to kill Nigerians.
But speaking with state house correspondents on Tuesday, Shehu said Buhari’s comment should be seen as a strong message against the long history of “savagery” associated with elections in the country.
“No one has anything to fear from the president’s comments if their conscience and intentions are clear,” Shehu said.
“Snatching ballot boxes often entails putting the lives of innocent Nigerians at risk. About 10 years ago, evidence was brought before an election tribunal from one of the states in North Central of the gruesome killing of 26 prospective voters by ballot box snatchers. Their modus operandi is well known. They storm election venues in commando style, overwhelm the law-enforcement agents and seize ballot boxes leaving a trail of death and injury.
“Anyone who dares to put the lives of innocent citizens at risk in their desperation to rig elections, must be prepared for the possibility of losing their own lives because our security agents will certainly not stand by, clap for them and watch them kill and maim.”
He added that Buhari had the safety and security of Nigerians uppermost in mind when he made the comment, and should be praised rather than criticised for issuing this stern warning to potential ballot box snatchers.