Row over Nigeria governor’s ‘body bag’ comments

February 7, 2019

The governor of a state in northern Nigeria has caused a row after he said that any foreigner who comes to intervene in the country’s 16 February presidential election will “go back in body bags”.

Kaduna governor Nasir el-Rufai was responding to criticism by some Western powers that last month’s suspension of the chief justice could affect the independence of the judiciary ahead of the vote.

Towards the end of a nine-minute answer on a show on the state-funded NTA television channel, Mr Rufai said:Quote Message: Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person to come and intervene.

Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person to come and intervene.Quote Message: 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. We are trying to run our country as decently as possible.”

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. We are trying to run our country as decently as possible.”

Mr Rufai belongs to the All Progressives Congress party of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is running for a second term.

The main opposition People’s Democratic Party responded by saying that Western powers should impose a travel ban on the governor for “this inciting comment against peaceful elections”, party spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan is quoted in the Nigerian Guardian newspaper as saying.

Defending his statement, Mr Rufai later said in a statement sent to Premium Times

that he was not calling for violence:Quote Message: Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence.”

Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence.”

Most of his answer talked about how important it was to keep the peace and the comment about body bags immediately followed remarks about military intervention.

Mr Rufai’s spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, said the row was manufactured and typical of the “silly season” in the run up to an election,