Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on Tuesday threatened to kill foreign nationals who might interfere in upcoming general elections in Nigeria.
His comments came over a week after the Nigerian government accused foreign powers including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union of actions that could be deemed as interference, and warned of consequences.
The three entities had condemned the suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, warning the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari could affect the credibility of general elections weeks away.
The February 16 presidential election is expected to be hotly contested, and there are fears of violence and election fraud, with the opposition repeatedly accusing the ruling party of plotting to rig the polls.
Mr Buhari has repeatedly committed to a free and fair poll, and warned against any attempt by other nations to meddle in the country’s internal affairs.
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had observed overt bias by Western countries towards the opposition People Democratic Party, a practice it said contradicted international norms.
Mr El-Rufai, a member of the ruling APC and staunch backer of the president, ratcheted up attacks against the opposition and the international community on national television Tuesday. He featured on the NTA’s Tuesday Live programme anchored by veteran broadcaster, Cyril Stober.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” the governor said.
He added that while Nigeria had intervened in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990s, it was done based on the resolution of the international community and as a gesture of “neighbourliness”.
Mr El-Rufai said Nigeria is an independent entity whose sovereignty would never be compromised in servitude to foreign powers.
“We are trying to run our country as decently as possible,” he said, adding that foreign countries have also had their own share of “though” phases before attaining their current developmental strides.
Mr El-Rufai’s warning also appeared to reinforce the comments of Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson who warned last month Nigeria would not hesitate in raising its armed forces against foreign elements if they meddled in internal affairs.
Mr Shehu was responding to separate but similar statements issued by the U.S., UK and EU diplomatic mission condemning the suspension of Chief Justice Onnoghen.