The presidency has thrown its support behind Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who has been under fire for threatening that foreign intervention in Nigeria's elections will result in foreigners leaving in body bags.

While speaking during an interview on NTA on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, the governor warned foreign nations against considering a military intervention in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

He said, "This is my appeal. Now, intervention is the higher form of interference where countries intervene militarily. We have done that in Sierra Leone and Liberia and we only did so because we had the international community actually appealing to Nigeria to go in and restore order. It cost us a lot of money and lives and we never got anything from it.

"Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person to come and intervene. They would go back in body bags because nobody would come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country. We have got that independence."

The governor's comment has received a lot of backlash with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) calling for the imposition of an international travel ban on the former minister.

The backlash forced the governor to clarify on Wednesday, February 6, that his comment was not a call for violence but a warning against needless intervention by the international community into Nigeria's sovereignty.

According to a statement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari's spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Thursday, February 7, the presidency said the governor spoke strongly in defence of national interest.

"We have taken note of the clarification to a reported 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 latest statement by him should rest the issue for good," he told Premium Times.

The presidential spokesperson declared that violence against Nigerians and foreign citizens will not be condoned before, during and after the elections.

While reaffirming that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidates have faith in Nigeria's democracy, Shehu assured Nigerians and the international community that President Buhari will ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

2019 general elections

The 2019 general elections will kick off with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 while Governorship and State Assembly elections will take place on March 2.

A total of 84,004,084 are registered to vote in the elections.