The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has warned that further postponement of the March 28 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission will amount to “a civilian and military coup.”
While advising INEC to take note of its constitutional limitations, he also ruled out participation in any election debate following the postponement of the elections.
The former Head of State, sounded the warning in an interview with journalists on Monday in Abuja during a courtesy call on him by the first elected President of Malawi and Leader of the Commonwealth Election Observers Group, Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
He said, “We told them about the change in the dates of elections and the constitutional limitations of INEC. That is the last card for INEC and they cannot delay the elections anymore. So, it is up to the government to facilitate a free, fair and credible election.
“If they fail to do that then, they will be indulging in a civilian and military coup because the constitution is very clear that certain days to the swearing in, there must be an election which will usher in a new government. So, there are no more excuses. INEC has given a document that they are ready for the election.
“They said they had trained their personnel, acquired equipment and have been distributing voter cards. But the security chiefs wrote INEC and demanded six more weeks.
“Okay, they have been given six weeks and that is the end of it. So we are getting ready for the election of March 28.
“Our enormous support has grown; we have visited 34 out of the 36 states in the country. It remains two states and Abuja and that will complete it. We are now conducting town hall meetings with interest groups, business people, the elite and youths. I appeal to our supporters to remain calm.”
Asked if he would participate in further debate due to the shift in presidential election date, Buhari said, “We are having town-hall meetings and the party (APC) has taken a superior position.”
Muluzi had while thanking Buhari for receiving his team, said that he had discussions with INEC.
He said, “I am from the Commonwealth and we are about 11 members who have been drawn from Commonwealth countries to observe the elections with some members of staff from London.
“We arrived here on Saturday and we normally arrive in any country in which we want to observe election five days before, just to interact with stakeholders and the leadership to understand the situation on the ground. It was only on Saturday night that we were informed that the election will now hold on March 28.
“We met with INEC this (Monday) morning and we raised some questions and they also answered the questions. We also thought that there should be an opportunity to meet the leadership. INEC has postponed the elections for six weeks.
“I just want to appeal to the Nigerian people, especially at this time, to remain calm. This is why I do congratulate him (Buhari) because he has asked his supporters to remain calm until the election is held on March 28.
“It is very important, Africa is still very important. We still have to create employment for our people. And if we are going to create chaos in our country, we will be unfair to our people who are looking forward to the leadership for employment. And therefore peace becomes very important. I will have to appeal to Nigerians to remain calm.”
Muluzi also said the delegation would meet with President Goodluck Jonathan to make the same appeal so that he must appeal to his supporters to remain calm.
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III-led Jama’atu Nasir Islam, has warned politicians against jeopardising the nation’s democracy with the postponment of the elections by INEC.
In its reaction to INEC’s decision to delay the polls, the body also asked politicians to fear God in their actions.
The apex Islamic body said on Monday that political gladiators should not jeopardise the already tensed situation in the country.
A statement by the JNI’s Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar-Aliyu, in Kaduna on Monday, however, asked Nigerians to remain calm by not further heating up the polity.
It said, “The JNI, under the leadership of its President-General, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and his lieutenants, after listening to the shift in dates of the 2015 general elections by six weeks, as announced by INEC, is watching with keen interest the uproar the decision is currently generating in the country and therefore calls for caution by all political gladiators.
“They should, in the name of God, not jeopardise the already tensed situation of grief and anxiety.”