Criticisms as trailed Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s threat to foreign election observers - Sabi Tips


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Criticisms as trailed Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s threat to foreign election observers

The Kaduna State governor’s comment is coming over a week after the Federal Government accused the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union of interfering in its domestic issues. They had criticised the suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, warning that the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Onnoghen could affect the credibility of the general elections.

El-Rufai had declared on a national television station that members of the global democratic institutions that were working for a peaceful election in Nigeria would return to their countries in body bags.

“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.”

El-Rufai reportedly spoke when he featured on NTA’s Tuesday Live programme anchored by veteran broadcaster, Cyril Stober.

Following the governor’s comment, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threatened to pull out of the peace accord it signed with other political parties.

Addressing newsmen at a press conference in Abuja, the PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the governor’s statement ran against the call for a peaceful conduct of the election.

“After due consideration of comments, threats and incendiary actions by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari presidency, which are directly inimical to a peaceful, free and fair election, the PDP is left with no option than to consider a review of its signatory in the national peace accord, if no action is immediately taken to curb this trend.

“Nigerians are still in a shock over comments by the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who declared on a national television that members of the global democratic institutions that are working for a peaceful election in Nigeria will return to their countries in body bags. What a threat?” Ologbondiyan said.

He called on the international community to immediately impose a travel ban on el-Rufai for this inciting comment against peaceful elections in the country.

The party, which also listed the shutting down of all the stadia in Kano by the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to frustrate PDP from campaigning in the state, against the spirit of the peace accord, called on the National Peace Committee, led by Abdusalami Abubakar, to summon El-Rufai.

The party has also objected to the redeployment of a former Chief Security Officer to APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, CP Kayode Egbetokun, as Kwara State Commissioner of Police.

Ologbondiyan alleged that Egbetokun has been handed the instruction to incite the people, cause pandemonium, and pave the way for outright rigging in favour of President Buhari and all other candidates on the platform of APC.

“This is in line with plans by the Buhari presidency and the APC to effect a mass deployment of top security officers, particularly the police, to intimidate, harass and manhandle Nigerians that will not support the self-succession bid of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as aiding APC thugs to snatch ballot boxes and orchestrate violence in the elections”, the party said.

Afenifere, Shehu Sani, Fani-Kayode Caution Ruling Party

Apart from the PDP, other influential voices have taken the Kaduna State governor up on his utterance.

Speaking with Daily Independent, Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, said it was appalled by El-Rufai’s utterance.

Spokesman of the organisation, Yinka Odumakin, said it was surprising that a senior public official like El-Rufai could be talking like Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram sect.

While calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take note of El-Rufai’s utterance, Afenifere also said children of politicians like El-Rufai who were studying abroad should be sent home.

Odumakin said: “We are appalled by his utterances. That a state governor will be talking like Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, baffles us.

“We want the International Criminal Court to take note of what El-Rufai has said. At this stage, we are calling for a revocation of visas.

“Their children who are studying abroad should be sent back to Nigeria. An example should be made of El-Rufai as a public official that you cannot continue to utter statement that will set Nigeria on fire. There should be consequences.”

On his part, Senator Shehu Sani, lawmaker representing Kaduna Central, said El- Rufai’s statement was condemnable.

In a tweet, he said: “The threat to kill foreigners who ‘interfere’ in Nigeria’s elections is a condemnable act.

“Nigerians and the international community must take this seriously. The sources and plots of violence is now clear. While our mind is set on ballot boxes and votes, theirs is set on bullets, body bags and coffins.”

Also reacting, Femi Fani- Kayode, former Minister of Aviation and PDP chieftain, said El- Rufai’s threat was because he was afraid the foreigners would not allow him and the APC announce fake results.

“You are planning to rig the election and you know that the only way you can possibly ‘win’ is by announcing fake results.

“You threaten foreigners that any of them that interfere with your rigging plans will go home in body bags. You are playing with fire and it will consume you,” Fani-Kayode said.

El-Rufai’s Death Threat Reckless— Lawyers

Some legal practitioners condemned Malam El-Rufai for issuing what appears a death threat to representatives of foreign countries should they meddle in the country’s forthcoming election.

In a chat with Daily Independent, the lawyers stated that it does not lie in the mouth of El-Rufai to issue such threat, considering that foreign observer missions are the norm in a globalised world such as ours, since what happens in Nigeria could have a ripple effect on other nations, especially the neighboring ones.

According to Adesina Adegbite, the immediate past Welfare Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), El-Rufai was uncouth and irresponsible in making such a threat.

He said, “The governor used an uncouth language. It is an act of irresponsibility. If any country or member state of the international community shows interest in Nigeria’s electoral process, it is only normal. That is what obtains all over the world today.

“You have foreign missions observing elections. There is nothing untoward about that. That they are showing interest should not be misinterpreted as interfering with our electoral process.

“If there is an overt meddling in our electoral process by any country, Nigeria through the appropriate channel can actually caution such country.

“But El-Rufai is certainly not the appropriate person to speak for Nigeria in matters of the kind? As far as I am concerned he has gone too far.”

Speaking in a similar vein, Malachy Ugwummadu, President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), maintained that El-Rufai’s statement was reckless.

According to him, “I don’t doubt that our politicians have become very reckless with their utterances.

“In the comity of nations, no country is an island unto itself. So it would be absurd, tentatively speaking, to say that the international community should stay away from Nigeria’s electoral process.

“What happens in Nigeria could have a ripple effect on the rest of the world, particularly on the countries neighboring her.

“So you cannot say that the international community should steer clear in the name of the sovereign independence of Nigeria.

“But Nigeria is a mature nation. I believe that we can take care of ourselves. To that extent, the international community should allow the country deal with its internal affairs without interference.”

Arewa Youths Blasts El-Rufai

Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), on Wednesday, reacted to the threat by El-Rufai.

According to Yerima Shettima, AYCF President General, El-Rufai can only say that in Kaduna State.

Shettima said President Muhammadu Buhari should also be courageous enough and warn foreigners who come in from neighbouring countries to stay away from Nigerian politics.

According to Shettima: “We are worried about the way they are encouraging more foreigners into our political activities. The latest event in Kano has actually proven beyond reasonable doubt that the APC government was busy encouraging foreigners to interfere in our national life which is not right, even within the international law; it’s not acceptable as that is not the standard.

“Having said that, I’m also concerned and worried that maybe he got carried away, as a governor, he has a limitation that he can only make such declaration in Kaduna State.

“If it’s general then we expect the president to summon courage to speak against the foreigners because he has more friends in the neighboring countries like in Niger, so that should be referred to him.

“We expect that he should be the one to summon courage and tell his friends never to interfere in our elections because it’s not done anywhere in the world and Nigeria must not allow such.

“The warning must be given to them that this is a purely Nigerian affair and citizens must be allowed to discharge their civic responsibility by voting for whoever they want to vote for, foreign mercenaries have no place interfering with our elections. Naturally, it’s against the law and international standard.”

Threat Won’t Deter Us From Observing Elections— EU Team

Reacting to Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s statement, a team of European Union election observers on Wednesday said the threat would not deter it from observing the general elections set to hold on February 16 and March 2.

The team, however, said it would continue to review its security arrangements before, during and after the elections.

In a statement by the team’s leader, Sarah Fradgley, it said, “We are aware of the comments by the governor of Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on the elections Tuesday, February 5.

“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 February 16 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.

“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.”

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