US Imposes Fresh Visa Restrictions on Election Riggers in Nigeria

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The United States of America (USA) has imposed fresh visa restrictions on individuals in Nigeria who undermined democratic processes in the recent gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, disclosed this on Monday in a statement by the spokesperson to the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, saying: “These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.”

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

The statement clarified that the visa restrictions were specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people.

Pompeo said the decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.

The statement condemned acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.

Ahead of the governorship polls in Edo and Ondo state, Pompeo urged all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.

It would be recalled that US had in July 2019 announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections.

The statement reads thus: “The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

“We commend all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.

“We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.

“We condemn the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.

“As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections near, we urge all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.

“In a statement on January 24, 2019, the U.S. Government said we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.

“In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections.

“Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa state elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo state elections.

“These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.

“The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people.

“This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”