UK, US place visa ban on poll riggers in Nigeria
London, Jan. 25, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The United States and the United Kingdom have warned that politicians, who instigate violence or are involved in electoral fraud, will be refused visas to enter their countries.
In statements issued by the US Embassy and British High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Thursday, both governments called for free and fair elections, announcing that politicians working towards scuttling the exercise would not only face a number of sanctions but would also have their family members face visa bans to the US and the UK.
The US Embassy in its statement, said, “The conduct of the upcoming elections in Nigeria is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.
“The United States Government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections but supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent and peaceful electoral process.
“We and other democratic nations will be paying close attention to actions of individuals, who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during or after the elections.
“We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process.
“Under US immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”
While making its own call and pledging support for the Independent National Electoral Commission, the British High Commission said, “We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy.
“We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity.
“We continue to provide significant support for the Independent National Electoral Commission and the the Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections.
“Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media.
“We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals.
“These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law
Meanwhile, opposition political parties on the platform of the Coalition of Political Parties welcomed the decision of the UK and the US.
The coalition’s first national spokesperson, Imo Ugochinyere, stated this in a statement in Abuja.
While lauding the foreign governments for their decision, Ugochinyere described them as the true gatekeepers of democracy.
He said, “We, the opposition parties, are in full support of this decision by the UK and the USA, the true gatekeepers of democracy.
“On Monday, we will be releasing a list of 15 Buhari/APC associates involved in pre-election crisis.
“This statement from the UK and the US couldn’t have come at a better time. We have on many occasions reiterated the need for this visa ban on perpetrators of election violence and we are glad that finally, it is going to happen.
“For the past few months, Buhari and his APC-led administration have tried to create many pre-election crises by spreading fake news about the opposition in other to instil hate and unbelief in the minds of innocent citizens.
“There are many cases, from their rally of blood in Lagos where they sent goons to attack citizens, to the arrest of innocent activists, opposition politicians, journalists, and the recent baseless lie by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the opposition is plotting to commission bandits and Boko Haram to disrupt the 2019 elections.
“All these are few of the many election triggers done intentionally by the APC to create pre-election crisis, and we will unveil the culprits on Monday.”
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party and its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, have thrown their weight behind the UK and the US decision to sanction anyone caught interfering with the elections.
However, the Social Democratic Party, which also supported the plan, said apart from violence and rigging, the foreign governments should add vote-buying to the list of electoral irregularities they would be on the lookout for.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, told one of our correspondents that the move was in the right direction.
He said, “While we want to commend the two countries for their interest in democratic process in our country, we also want to appeal to them to pay serious attention to happenings at INEC and the activities of its officials from the chairman to the last person in the hierarchy of the commission.”
He equally called on other foreign nations to beam their searchlights on the activities of security agencies and officials of the Federal Government.
Atiku, who reacted through his aide, Mr Phrank Shaibu, said he was happy about the action of the two countries.
He said, “The threat of the visa ban is a welcome development. We have been advocating a free and fair contest where the people’s votes will count. It is the government of the day that has been jittery and their subterranean moves are in the public space.
“This election is a referendum on the performance of the incumbent and you do need the services of a clairvoyant to hazard a guess as to what the outcome will be.”
In his contribution, the National Publicity Secretary of the SDP, Alfa Mohammed, said the foreign governments should also beam their searchlight on the electoral process as released by the INEC.
Mohammed , however, said they should also “focus attention on vote-buying which the party in power is relying on as manifested in previous elections.”