European Union election observers have reacted to a threat issued to foreigners by the Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai.

El-Rufai, on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, warned foreigners not to interfere in Nigeria’s affairs.

According to him, “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.

“So, please, let’s work together; let’s advise one another but don’t lecture us.”

No going back

In its response, the EU observer group said El-Rufai’s threat will not stop them from monitoring the upcoming general elections.

Premium Times reports that the team issued a statement saying “We are aware of the comments by the Governor of Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on the elections Tuesday 5 February.

“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.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission invited the EU to deploy an observation mission for the 2019 general elections.

“EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.

“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 the mission’s team in Abuja, as well as 40 long-term observers across the country, have followed the elections. We have met with a wide range of candidates, parties, election officials, security agencies, and civil society organisations, and have enjoyed good cooperation at federal and state levels.

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“The mission looks at all aspects of the election, including the campaign tone, the transparency of the election administration, the neutrality of security forces, and the independence of the judiciary.”

El-Rufai reacts to criticisms

Some Nigerians have criticised El-Rufai, describing his statement as hate speech.

In his reaction, the Kaduna state Governor, in a statement signed by his media aide, said he was only defending the sovereignty of the nation.