US vows visa ban, other tough sanctions for election offenders

The United States Government on Tuesday renewed its vow of imposing visa ban on anyone found wanting of undermining the electoral process in Nigeria.

The US Government said it witnessed firsthand incidents of voter intimidation and violence in the governorship and house of assembly elections held nationwide in Nigeria on March 18th.

In a statement issued by the US Embassy in Nigeria, Washington however commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the marked improvement in the conduct of the elections.

But it decried the increased violence witnessed during the elections in Lagos, Kano, and other states across the country.

The US urged the Federal Government to probe the reports of violence and threatened to impose visa ban on all individuals found culpable in the efforts at undermining the process.

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The statement read: “Nigeria carried out the second round of its electoral process with gubernatorial and state assembly elections on March 18.

“The United States is deeply troubled by the disturbing acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during those polls in Lagos, Kano, and other states. 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.

“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.”

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