Sometimes, a mistake turns out correct”- Anonymous

2018 Democracy Day speech, Nigeria, President Buhari
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President Buhari; credit: Twitter/NGRPresident

The Law prescribes a punishment of 24 months imprisonment under Sections 129 (1) and (2) Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2010 list of Election Day offences. All that pertains to the question can be answered in this section.

Section 129 in Subsection 3 confirms “Any person who snatches or destroys any election material commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment.”

However, there is an important twist to the matter and it is very important at that. Before the person can be subjected to the Law in the Electoral Act, he has to first be arrested.

Well, let’s imagine this scenario. People are voting and someone snatches the ballot box and runs. You would need to arrest him before you can take him before the courts for the prescribed two years jail term under the Electoral Act for the offense of snatching ballot box.

Since he is running 🏃🏾‍♂and is resisting lawful arrest👨🏾‍✈, S33 of the Nigerian constitution that provides right to life also provides the restrictions to this and the conditions where a person will not be described as having been deprive of his life. One of them is in subsection 2b.

(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;

While trying to effect the lawful arrest of a person running as a ballot box snatcher will not stand transfixed but will rather be in motion, the law would not consider him as having been deprived of his life if he is shot. There would have been a need to effect lawful arrest and by extension he has paid the price of his life to carry the box and run.

If they need to effect the arrest of someone running who has carried the ballot box. It is permissible to shoot please. It is when he is arrested that he can be sentenced to two years like you all claim. So, in order to effect his arrest which is the primary thing before charging him to court at all, he can be deprived of his life. This is the law on that.

But a President does not utter such a statement knowing fully well that we have a force of frustrated officers who have shot for no reason and can do for no reason.

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Nigeria has a terrible Human Rights records and is worsened by the still fresh memory of the Customs Officer who shot a man dead.

In the light of the heated political atmosphere, the President was wrong. It potentially scares voters and also encourages police rascality.

However, the law is an ass like they say. The statement is legally correct.

Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa is a student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University. He can be contacted on koyetolu@gmail.com or on Twitter @koye_tolu or on Linked In as Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa. He writes for several opinion sites and has a commentary ability that stretches across law, politics, economics, music and even arts.

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