Renown Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has called on the international community to place a travel ban on Kaduna Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai for his “body bags” remarks.

El-Rufai had warned that foreigners who interfered in Nigeria’s affairs, could end up in body bags.

The governor’s remarks were a reaction to separate statements issued by the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union on the suspension of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by President Muhammadu Buhari.

El-Rufai had said: “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”.

El-Rufai to be dragged to court

El-Rufai’s comments sparked quite some outrage on social media and beyond; and Falana thinks the governor will not only be prosecuted for his comments when he steps out of office, he could well be slapped with a visa ban for his troubles.

Kaduna Governor El-Rufai got into trouble for his body bag comments (Punch)
Kaduna Governor El-Rufai got into trouble for his body bag comments (Punch)

“The threat to attack and kill foreign election observers in Nigeria constitutes an infraction of the Electoral Act, 2010 and the Penal Code but because Governor El Rufai currently enjoys immunity, his trial and prosecution for the offence will have to await the end of his tenure”, The Cable quotes Falana as saying at the secretariat of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) during a memorial event in honour of Beko Ransome-Kuti, the human rights activist who died 13 years ago.

“The western countries that have threatened to place travel restrictions on members of the ruling class who incite violence or interfere in the electoral process should not hesitate to make an example of the governor without any further delay.

“The Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who has also warned against any form of electoral violence in the country is urged to hold Governor El Rufai responsible if foreign observers and monitors are killed during the 2019 general election.

“Notwithstanding the recklessness of the threat to attack foreign election observers, Governor El Rufai has confirmed that the 2019 general election is going to be a do or die affair (apologies to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) for the leading factions of the ruling class.

“Since leading politicians have recruited and armed thugs, the general elections will be characterized by violence in many parts of the country. Even if some of the thugs are arrested and are arraigned in the courts, the various attorneys-general would file nolle prosequi to terminate the criminal cases as the managers of the neocolonial state cannot afford to prosecute their armed agents.

Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State came under fire for his comments on foreign interference in Nigeria's affairs (Guardian) .
Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State came under fire for his comments on foreign interference in Nigeria's affairs (Guardian) .

“Therefore, since the children of the sponsors of violence are in expensive schools at home and abroad, we urge the masses of our people not to allow their own children to be used as cannon fodders during the battle for the control of political power and economic resources of the country by the ruling class.”

El-Rufai said afterwards that he was only defending Nigeria’s sovereignty when he made the remarks on national television.

Nigeria votes to elect federal and state political leaders on February 23 and March 9, 2019.