Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States Government has made good on its threat to impose visa restrictions on individuals responsible for acts of violence, intimidation, and corruption during the November 2019 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
The US has also imposed visa restrictions on individuals responsible for acts of violence in the yet-to-be held Edo and Ondo States elections.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed the sanctions, according to a statement by the Spokesperson of the United States Department of State, Morgan Ortagus.
Ortagus said the United States was a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy, adding that the United States commended all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.
She said the Government of the United States remained committed to working together to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both 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 organizing 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,’ Ortagus said.
The Department of State’s spokesperson further said the individuals had so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.
Ortagus also said the Department of State emphasised that the actions announced were 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 realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights,’ Ortagus added.