By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
The Federal Government said Wednesday that it had commenced payment of salaries of workers on its pay roll to enable easy movement across the country for the February 23 presidential election.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this to State House correspondents at Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja at the end of the weekly Fedetal Executive Council (FEC) mwwting said the gesture was to cushion the effect of last Saturday’s election postponement by theIndependent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reports indicate that several Nigerians had travelled to different parts of the country with the hope of casting their votes but returned disappointed owing to the shift.
Mohammed said:“On the part of the federal government also, we decided that to make it easy for those who will want to go back to vote, salary payment started yesterday (Tuesday) as opposed to the normal 25th of every month. This is just to ease the burden of people who want to go back and cast their vote.
Meanwhile, FEC has thrown its weight behind the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the military and other security agencies to be ruthless against ballot box snatchers during the forthcoming elections.
President Buhari on Monday at the opening of All Progressives Congress (APC), National Caucus emergency meeting in Abuja warned political thugs nursing the idea of ballot snatching to do so, at the risk of their lives.
The President said “Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action you would take. I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless.
”I am going to warn anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life.”
While the President’s comments have been criticised by stakeholders,INEC has since differed on the orders during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections, explaining that the commission would stand by the Electoral Act which “states that persons who snatch election materials are liable to a prison term of two years or maximum fine of N500, 000.”.
INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu insists that “the position of the commission is that all violators of the Electoral Act should be punished according to the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Speaking on the outcome of FEC meeting, Lai said, “absolutely. I mean if you want to intimidate voters to steal the mandate of the people, you should be able to face the wrath of the law.”