The European Union Election Observation Mission has insisted that Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai’s threat that foreigners who try to intervene in the forthcoming 2019 election will leave in “body bags” will not stop it from observing the poll.
“We are aware of the comments by the Governor of #Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on #NigeriaDecides2019 on 5/2/19,” EU said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“The #EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country.
“The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in #Nigeria since 1999. Thus this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria. @inecnigeria invited the EU to deploy an observation mission for @NigeriaDecides2019”
El-Rufai had said on National Television Authority’s Tuesday Live, that Nigeria is an independent country and doesn’t need foreigners telling her what to do.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” the Kaduna state governor said.
But the EU monitoring group while reacting to the governor’s comment said its observation missions is to give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process.
It stated that its “observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.”
EU maintained that “while the security of EU observers is of paramount importance, and will remain under constant review, EU observers will continue their work across the country in the run-up to – and beyond – the 16 February elections.”
“For the last month our team in Abuja, as well as 40 long-term observers across the country, have followed the elections. We’ve met with a wide range of candidates, parties, election officials, security agencies, CSOs, + have enjoyed good cooperation at federal and state levels,” the statement read.
El- Rufai’s comment is similar to that of a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in January who said as much as Nigeria welcomes interests and partnerships for free and fair polls, the government would not condone unfair interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Shehu was responding to statements issued by the U.S., UK and EU diplomatic mission condemning the suspension of Chief Justice Onnoghen.
The international bodies said Onnoghen’s suspension could affect the general election and its aftermath.
But following El-Rufai’s comment Nigeria’s opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) called on the “international community to immediately impose a travel ban on El-Rufai for this inciting comment against peaceful elections in our country.”
The party also threatened to pull out of the national peace accord before asking the National Peace committee to summon the Kaduna State governor over his comments.
“Any situation that seeks to allow the APC to abuse the tenets of the accord will definitely force our party to review our signatory to the peace process,” PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement.
“We therefore call on the National Peace Committee to immediately summon El-Rufai on his inflammatory remarks against peaceful election in our country,” PDP added.
The 2019 peace accord, convened by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, was to commit the political parties and candidates to a peaceful poll.
El-Rufai in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan, tied to clarify his comments. He insisted that his comment does not contain any call for violence but for a powerful defence of sovereignty.
Nigeria goes to poll on February 16 with the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) facing a stiff challenge from Atiku Abubakar of the PDP.