On Monday September 14, the US government has slapped a visa restriction on Nigerians who try to undermine the country’s democracy by causing violence or rigging elections.
A statement released by the spokesperson for the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, said those issued visa restrictions are not directed at Nigerians in general but certain people that oppose peace and democratic values in the country.
Nigerian elections held last year on February 29 was won by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, with 15 million votes. Buhari defeated his closest rival, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party, who garnered 11 million votes.
The statement also condemned the 2019 election’s acts of “violence, intimidation and corruption that harmed Nigerians,” and warned ahead of off-cycle elections to “uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.”
However, their names remain classified — both the US and Nigerian governments have yet to release the list of offenders’ names. While this statement did not contain any specific details on how they determined who to add to this offenders’ list, past pronouncements reveal clues.
This means any individual or Nigerian politician found guilty of electoral malpractice after the Edo governorship election, will be included on the visa restriction list.
On January 24, 2019, the United States Embassy in Nigeria, on the heels of the general elections slated for February, warned that it was “paying close attention” to the actions of Nigerian politicians who “instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections.”
The US Mission in Nigeria also emphasized that visa restrictions will be applied to perpetrators and their family members. The US State Department reiterated this threat on July 23, 2019.
Recall the UK government and the US issued a warning in January 2019 that they would impose sanctions on individuals found inciting violence during elections in Nigeria.
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