Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday warned the military against obeying instruction by President Muhammadu Buhari to shoot ballot box snatchers, saying it may lead to prosecution by the International Court of Justice (ICC).
This is even as the governor said that some of them are prepared to ensure that this democracy is sustained for the sake of Nigerians and posterity.
The governor, who was addressing newsmen in Abuja, added that obeying such directive will amount to perpetrating extra-judicial killings.
Advising the military to stick to the rules of engagement during the conduct of the coming elections, Ortom said that as a governor, he does not condone electron rigging, adding that due process must be followed in dealing with those who commit infractions.
The governor noted that the country is gradually drifting to a banana republic, adding that government that was elected democratically is gradually turning into a dictatorship.
“It is unfortunate that Nigeria is gradually drifting to a banana republic where no rule of law is respected and observed.
“A government that was elected democratically is gradually turning into a dictatorship. It is unfortunate for our own President to come out and disregard the provisions of the laws of the land and give orders for extra-judicial killings in the state and torture against innocent Nigerians.
“Let me say unequivocally that I am completely against the rigging of any form by any political party. It is wrong and we do not need that.
“For me, I did not rig election to become governor. But the truth of the matter is that we have laws. And I expect that Mr. President as the chief custodian of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should protect our constitution and the laws of the land. It is unfortunate that Mr President gave such an order.
“I was just reading from the social media the reaction of the military that they are going to obey the directives of Mr President to the letter. It is unfortunate. This cannot stand, this cannot hold,” Ortom said.
The governor also warned that the security operatives should know that they are Nigerians and that tomorrow may tell a different story.
He said: “I want to advise those who are in the military, police and the other security agencies to realize that they are also Nigerians. Today, they are serving the public; tomorrow they will not be there. Maybe some of them will become politicians like some of us are.
“It has happened in the past and it will happen again. And I also want to remind them that the day of reckoning will definitely come when they will be called upon to give an account of their stewardship.
“So, I want to advise them to respect the rules of engagement based on the laws of the land. No matter the directives of Mr President. The police, army, DSS and all other security agencies should be professional rather than taking arbitrary directives. This is not correct. In a democratic setup, things must be done rightly.
“To the security agencies, I want them to know that beyond Nigeria, there is the International Criminal Court (ICC). And when your tenure ends, you will still be liable. If you do that which is wrong, Mr President will not be there tomorrow to protect you. So, they have to be mindful. We must protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria otherwise, none of us will be safe again including the President”.
Speaking on the postponement of the elections, Ortom said, “Something was wrong. It wasn’t the fault of anyone. If you apportion blame, you should give it to INEC. Planning for more than three years and coming to tell us that you postpone the election two hours to the time of the election is not acceptable anywhere.
“For us, we are calling on Nigerians to be law-abiding because this election must take place. And it must be free, transparent and fair to ensure that we usher incredible leaders that will take us to the Promised Land. We should not do anything that will disrupt this election.
“We support the President as far as standing against rigging. I have told my people in Benue State that there is no room for rigging and I will be against anyone that attempts to rig the election.
“I know that the APC is planning to give soldiers and other security agencies to intimidate others. We are not going to accept this. Let it be known to every Nigerian that some of us are prepared to ensure that this democracy is sustained for the sake of Nigerians and posterity,” he added.