El-Rufai backtracks on his statement saying he now welcomes foreign election observers

GOVERNOR Nasir El-Rufai has backtracked on his recent comments calling for the execution of foreigners who interfered in Nigeria's forthcoming elections saying that he is not calling for attacks against international election observers.


In a moment of recklessness last week, Governor El-Rufai warned that any foreigners who intervened in the elections would go back to their countries in body bags. His comments immediately attracted widespread national and international condemnation, with the European Union (EU), UK, Commonwealth, African Union and US all saying they would be sending observers to monitor the elections.


Seeking to limit the diplomatic damage the statement may have caused, President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement through his spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu, saying the governor spoke in the interest of Nigerians and there is nothing more to sneeze at. He further assured the international community of a free and fair and violence-free election.


Now, wading in to the crisis, Governor El-Rufai has said he never told Nigerians to kill foreigners during elections. In a recent interview, Governor El-Rufai said he had not asked any Nigerian to kill any foreigner they see during elections.


Governor El-Rufai added:  “The government of Nigeria must invite observers but if we notice, there is a coordinated plan to delegitmise the election to already declare the election illegitimate even before they were conducted and it has the support of Nigerian collaborators and foreign interests, then we must speak out, That is what is appearing to be the way the PDP is hobnobbing  with some of the foreign interests here, we have to make the observation.


“They are here to observe, they are not here to intervene. They are not here to lay the foundations for crisis in Nigeria, which is what the PDP are preparing for as their last ultimate option and we are aware of it."


Also wading into the issue, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said Governor El-Rufai’s threat was appropriate if it was targeted against foreigners plotting to compromise the forthcoming election. Ohanaeze spokesman Chuks Ibegbu, however, stated that if the threat was against countries like the US and other western countries that have shown concern over Nigeria’s democracy then it is inappropriate.