U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Nigerians involved in ‘undermining Democracy’

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    WASHINGTON, July 23 – The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians it said were involved in trying to undermine democracy in presidential and parliamentary elections this year.

    The department did not name the individuals or say how many were affected by the visa restrictions. President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term in February in an election marred by delays, logistical glitches and violence.

    “These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

    “The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government,” Ortagus added.

    Naija247news recalled that U.S govt and British govt back in January this year vowed to punish those who take part in election violence and rigging in the upcoming Nigerian elections will be denied visas, the United Kingdom and the United States have said in a joint statement.
    The UK government said its observers would monitor polling stations and social media during the February 16 vote and those found inciting violence may also face prosecution.
    “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,” the government said in the statement released on Thursday.

    Travel restrictions may also extend to family members, the US government said, adding that the peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections was not only crucial to Nigeria but also the continent.

    “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,” the US government said in the statement.
    “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.”

    The two countries said they remained committed to Nigeria’s democracy, and Nigerians should be allowed to choose their leaders at the polls.
    Citizens in Africa’s most populous nation will vote in a general election next month, and political parties have begun nationwide campaigns to persuade voters.
    Allegations of vote buying and violence from party members across the board was rife during previous elections.
    Last September US observers monitored a gubernatorial election in Osun, southwest Nigeria and said they witnessed incidents of voter intimidation and interference in the electoral process.

    Early this month, at least three people were stabbed, and dozens were injured after fighting broke out at Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressive Alliance campaign rally in Lagos sparking fears of further violence in the upcoming elections.
    Political party leaders and presidential candidates signed a peace agreement in December pledging their support for transparency in the electoral process.

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    Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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