President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those planning to disrupt the 2019 general elections by snatching ballot boxes or disturbing polling units they could pay with their lives.
While speaking at the caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, February 18, 2019, he said he's confident that he'll win re-election so he won't rig the polls for his own benefit, or be seen to be manipulating the process.
The president said he's mandated law enforcement agencies to be ruthless against people planning to disrupt the elections.
He said, "Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb it, maybe that's the last unlawful action you'll take.
"I really gave the military and the police order to be ruthless. We're not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected. Let them vote whoever they want across the parties.
"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."
Buhari fires INEC over incompetence
While speaking at the meeting, the president also fired the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its incompetence in the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Just hours to the commencement of the polls on February 16, the commission postponed the elections for an extra week due to logistical problems and claims of attempted sabotage.
The president said the commission's failure to conduct the elections on the scheduled date was unacceptable.
He said INEC had all the time and resources they required and didn't have to wait for six hours to the polls to postpone it.
He said,"Definitely, the reasons why such incompetence manifests itself has to be explained to the nation."After the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who's responsible. Otherwise, our efforts to make sure this system we voluntarily accept is not making progress.
"What is the use if we accept incompetence? The constitution and the laws protected INEC but they must not take us for granted."
The national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, also criticised INEC's decision and accused the commission of informing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) about the postponement before it was officially made public.
He also said the party will not adhere to INEC's ban on the resumption of campaigns by political parties, noting that the party has to continue to inform the electorate about its plans.
The Presidential and National Assembly elections that were supposed to take place on February 16 will now take place on February 23, while the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections initially scheduled for March 2 have been moved to March 9.