“Shoot at sight order“ runs contrary to democratic norms – Adeola Soetan

“Shoot at sight order“ runs contrary to democratic norms, constitutions, electoral laws and civilised behaviour

Buhari issues shoot-at-sight order to security agencies on ballot snatchers
Buhari issues shoot-at-sight order to security agencies on ballot snatchers

Electoral malpractice has gone beyond ballot snatching. And where few incidents occur, they are always done with the active or passive supports of compromised security operatives in such areas depending on who is paying the pipers. In that instance, who will now ‘shoot at sight’ those criminal minded security operatives?.

Nowadays, election rigging is more by a ‘peaceful’ election results manipulations from polling units to collation centres, underage voting, and of course, vote trading – buying and selling of votes which the bigger parties like PDP and APC are well entrenched. In fact, these billionaires’ parties openly induce voters with a variety of ‘stomach infrastructures’ and this is also major malpractice which has virtually become a norm in our country and undermine the integrity of our electoral process.

Perhaps a “shoot at sight” order on the practitioners of this ridiculous malpractice will sanitize our electoral system, or underage voters will make election more credible? I don’t think so. Let the law deal with that.

Instead of giving an unfettered freedom to “shoot at sight“ ballot snatchers which are criminal acts by all interpretations, perhaps you should have appealed to the electorates to be more courageous and confident enough to defend their votes and effect the arrest of ballot box snatchers including compromised security operatives and hand them over to security operatives whom you should have warned to be very neutral, professional or be prepared to lose their jobs.

I repeat, Mr President that the few criminals that have the confidence to snatch ballot boxes have tacit support of the security operatives and the reigning godfathers in the area.

Democracy (election) and its protection is better done by the people themselves, not by few gun-wielding policemen/soldiers as your statement which may be borne out genuine concern for free and fair elections.

Sir, losing lives of suspected election ballot snatcher on the spot as you have ordered is dictatorial, undemocratic and potentially crisis-ridden. A life lost at a polling unit would definitely trigger a major crisis, more so when such victim is a suspect or a mere victim of ‘accidental discharge’ in an attempt to shoot at election riggers, the ripple effect is better imagined. Such ‘kill and go’ order is capable of intimidating many innocent voters for fear of being killed when an atmosphere of war, not festival is bound to be created. What will happen if we have 1000 election ballot snatchers? So the 1000 election ballot snatchers will waste their lives without fair hearing? No, please. They must be heard even if they will be killed.

This contradicts the repeated appeal by Chief Obafemi Awolowo whose calls on election period like this were to the effect that voters should defend their votes, stand by it, day and night. You should have emulated such a more civilised approach because ultimately, power resides in the people, not the security operatives who only obey the ‘last order’ not of the electorate or INEC they come to protect but their superiors and influential politicians.

“Shoot at sight order“ runs contrary to democratic norms, constitutions, electoral laws and civilised behaviour. We as a people are governed by law, not by men who can be angry, dotting, biased, or partial. This is the reason we have the constitution as the grundnorm. No matter the electoral malpractice, there are enough laws and punishment for such. 

Yes, Mr President can be angry but your anger must be within the confines of the law, if not you are simply becoming a brutal dictator. There is nowhere in our law books that empowers the President to order security operatives ‘to waste’ citizen’s lives on the spot, none.

As you are angry, most citizens are more angry with you politicians across boards for failure to deliver. If we should be left alone to express our anger outside the confines of the law, I bet you, many governors would have been burnt alive for owning salaries and for bad governance.

Many corrupt politicians in PDP and APC would be roasted alive as many have turned their states into their private kingdoms while millions wallowed in abject poverty.

Many citizens would have summarily wasted lives of armed robbers and petty market thieves out of anger. But we dare not. Why? Because there are laws sanctioning those criminal activities.

Lastly, Mr President, I recall that the last time I heard a “shoot at sight” order was during the second republic under president Shagari when an overzealous IGP Sunday Adewusi, gave a shoot at sight order to his police to kill election riggers (his exact words unlike yours now but implying that) in the heat of 1983 elections that bloodly returned Shagari to power. That ‘death sentence on the spot order’ received wild condemnations across the civilised world but the government was unyielding.

And how did the security operatives implement the order which many ignorant, unthinking and unwise Nigerians and party mobs applauded as the answer to election rigging?

Fully armed Mobile policemen became mad dogs on the eve and on election day, arresting, shooting and killing people indiscriminately especially members/sympathisers of UPN and other opposition parties.

NPN politicians capitalised on this to dress political thugs in police uniforms. Hell let loose and supposedly anti-rigging police squad became election riggers themselves and accomplices to politicians from the ruling party.

That was the first time I heard the word: ‘federal might’. The consequential effects led to the illegal military coup you led. History is never asleep!

I commend your deep concern like most Nigerians against electoral malpractices, but such concern and actions must be within the confine of law. That is the beauty of Democracy.
Modify and moderate that your order and always guide your statements no matter the anger, frustration or good intention sir.

Best wishes as I wish my country, Nigeria.


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