© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Death threat on ballot snatchers: The president is right, says keyamu
President's statement is endorsement of jungle justice… Melaye
FESTUS Keyamu, the director of strategic communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, has defended the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari which threatened with loss of life anyone that dares snatch ballot box during the general elections rescheduled for Saturday, February y 23.
President Buhari had on Monday warned that anybody who snatches ballot boxes or disturbs the voting system on Saturday would do so “at the expense of his own life.”
Critics of the president, including the major challenger in the February elections, PDP, have expressed disappointment over the comment.
Keyamu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said there is nothing wrong with the statement because it is in line with the provisions of the constitution and criminal code act.
But Senator Dino Melaye, the spokesperson of the PDP, has described the statement as an invitation for “jungle justice.”
Both party men spoke on Tuesday evening during a Channels television programme: The Verdict.
According to Keyamu, ballot snatching is no different from a robbery which could be tried either under electoral or criminal law.
And armed robbery is punishable by death, he argued.
He said the president’s statement should be understood as a commitment to protect the peaceful majority against the violent minority, which ballot snatchers represent.
“ I will advise the president to make the statement again and again…so if you don’t want to die, don’t snatch ballots,” Keyamu insisted.
But Senator Melaye upbraided the president for making such an “appalling” statement.
The president does not have the power to pronounce death on anybody, even a criminal. That is for the judge and the president is not a judge, said the lawmaker.
Senator Melaye who had sponsored anti- jungle justice bill condemned the president pronouncement, saying such a statement is an invitation for the extrajudicial killing of Nigerians, prohibited by the Nigerian domestic law and Geneva conventions.
But Keyamo insisted that both Nigerian and international law provided for an exception that allows a criminal to be killed extra-judicially.
“There is an exception to right life, and one of those exceptions is that you can legitimately take a life if you are doing it to protect the lives of others or the destruction of property.”
Chapter 27( 306) of the Nigerian criminal code act states that: “It is unlawful to kill any person unless such killing is authorised or justified or excused by law.”
Keyamu argued that killing a ballot snatcher is justifiable under this law.
“There is no need to repackage the president’s statement. The president is stating the law,” he stressed.