President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the threat by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, that foreign nationals who intervene in the forthcoming general elections will “go back in body bags”.
Speaking on Tuesday Live, on a late-night programme on the NTA, El-Rufai warned the United States, US, the United Kingdom, UK, and the European Union, EU, who have reacted to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to stop interfering in the affairs of Nigeria, else, they would leave in “body bags”.
He had said, “They (the comments) were based on non-information and they are most irresponsible and I am happy that the Presidency responded to them.
“Those that are calling for everyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags. Because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country. We’ve got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible and we know the history of those countries that are trying to teach us these things; we have read their history. We also know that in their stages of development they went through these challenges.”
The Kaduna governor noted that Nigeria had intervened militarily in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990’s upon the resolution of the international community and as a gesture of “neighbourliness”.
Following criticisms that have trailed the above comment, Buhari on Wednesday night came to the defence of El-Rufai, saying the governor spoke in the interest of Nigerians as “There is nothing more to sneeze at”.
The President, who spoke in a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, however assured the international community of a free and fair, violence free election.
He said: “The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari would cooperate with election observers and would not let the international community down in the conduct of the coming elections.
“The Presidency assures Nigerians and the international community that the President would do everything within its power to ensure free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“We have taken note of the clarification to an earlier statement by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai concerning opposition call for foreign interference in our domestic affairs and to say that the latest statement by him should rest the issue for good.
“There is nothing more to sneeze at. The Governor spoke strongly in defense of our national interest.
“It is clear that El-Rufai, our party and all its candidates have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections.
“They are all of the view that there is no place for violence against local people or foreign citizens in our midst.
“Opposition PDP ought to own up to the mistakes of their own policies for 16 years which have led the country to a sorry pass that has cost lives, jobs and growth instead of dwelling on diversionary issues.”