Governor Nasir El-Rufai (Photo credit: Government House)

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has denied calling for violence in his comments about foreign interference in the forthcoming elections, stating that he stood up for the country’s dignity.

El-Rufai in an interview on NTA’s Tuesday Live had said that those who attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the country would return to their countries in body bags.

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The comment had sparked outrage, with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) calling on the international community to impose a travel ban on the governor.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, El-Rufai explained that his comment was not a call for violence but rather a powerful defense of sovereignty.

According to Aruwan, such statements are what one should expect to hear from a patriot.

He further explained that he is standing firmly against those trying to divide Nigerians on ethnic and religious lines, and is opposed to violence but firmly committed to peace and harmony.

The statement read, “When Malam Nasir El-Rufai appeared on NTA’s Tuesday Night Live, he made comments every patriot can understand. He stood up for Nigeria’s dignity in the wake of those who would traduce their country and reduce it to the status of a colony in their vain quest for power.

“The video of his comments is in circulation. Any fair-minded person with modest familiarity with the English language and unimpaired comprehension can understand it. It does not contain any call for violence.

“It is a powerful defense of sovereignty. Are some sections of our political class implying that they will acquiesce in or collaborate with foreign intervention in our country?

“Non-interference in the affairs of other countries is a basic principle of international law. Threatening to intervene in another country implies the use of force. Those who are basing their electoral calculations on foreign intervention need to be discouraged. Only the lawful votes of the Nigerian people should make or unmake governments.

“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. Warning about the consequences of meddling in another country’s affairs is legitimate.

”Malam Nasir El-Rufai has issued a powerful call for vigilance and a clear notice that other countries should not mistake the supine posture of the opposition for national weakness.

“El-Rufai has stood firmly against those who have been trying to divide Nigerians on ethnic and religious lines. He is resolutely opposed to violence, and firmly committed to peace and harmony.”