AMID controversy over President Muhammadu Buhari’s shoot at order against ballot box snatchers, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), believes that perhaps, there are occasions when a ballot box can be shot in spite of the provisions of Electoral Act.
In a statement Thursday, Sagay, who is the the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, stated that the threat implied in President Buhari’s statement on ballot box snatchers should not bother those who do not plan to embark on disrupting the electoral process.
According to Sagay, the scenario of an armed ballot box snatcher alters significantly the provisions of the Electoral Act, which stipulates a prison term of two years for ballot box snatchers.
He stated: “The controversy arising from the President’s warning that anyone snatching ballot boxes or violently disrupting the coming elections may be doing so at the risk of his life is uncalled for. It is a very timely and benevolent advice.
“In the first place, anyone not planning to snatch ballot boxes or disrupt the election process has nothing to worry about.
“Regardless of whatever section or scenario it is, if the ballot snatchers or election disrupters are armed, they are goners. The security men have a complete right of self-defence. So the President’s admonition is not far from the reality of our law.”
Faulting some critics of the President’s statement, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that, “under Section 118 paragraphs (f)(i)(j) of the Electoral Act 2010, destroying or removing ballot papers is liable on conviction to two years imprisonment only. This by implication applies to anyone who disrupts the voting process in any way.
“What if the culprit starts running away with the ballot box and other voting materials? The security agencies and even the ordinary citizens are entitled by law to chase after him with the intention of apprehending him and recovering the materials.
“The critical factor is what level of force can be applied to stop him. Section 261 of the Criminal Code provides: It is lawful for a person who is engaged in the lawful execution of any sentence, process or warrant, or is making any arrest, and for any person lawfully assisting him, to use such force as may be reasonably necessary to overcome any force used in resisting such execution or arrest.
“The security or arresting official is allowed to use such force as may be reasonably necessary in securing the arrest.“