March 22, 2023

Polls: US plans new visa ban on electoral offenders

Polls: US plans new visa ban on electoral offenders

By Victoria Ojeme

The US government yesterday reiterated its decision to impose additional visa ban on those responsible for the large scale violence that trailed the general elections in the country, especially the governorship/State Assembly polls.

Consequently, the US Embassy in Nigeria in a statement yesterday, listed Lagos, Kano, among others, as states where violence reigned during last Saturday’s governnorship and state assembly election.

It also expressed  deep concerns over the intimidation of voters and suppression caused by the violence.

The statement read: “Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.

”The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos was particularly concerning.

“We commend all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and citizens who have chosen to reject and speak out against such violence and inflammatory language, affirming Nigerians’ commitment to and respect for the democratic process.

“We call on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.

”The United States likewise, will consider all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.”

“Following the February 25 national elections, the United States joined other international observers in urging the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to improve voting processes and technical elements that experienced flaws in that voting round..

”The March 18 elections appear to have had significant operational improvements, as polling stations generally opened on time and most results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner.

“The United States renews its call for any challenges to election results to go through established legal processes, which must not be interfered with.

”We further call for Nigeria’s people to work together as they participate in and continue to strengthen the country’s vibrant democracy.”