US Mission Examines Visa Restrictions After “Our Observers Saw Violence In Lagos, Elsewhere”
The “disturbing” acts of violence, voter intimidation, and suppression that plagued last Saturday’s governorship elections have been denounced by the US Mission in Nigeria.
The mission expressed special worry about the use of racially charged rhetoric prior to, during, and after the Lagos governorship election in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday.
Part of the statement states, “Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission watched the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and personally witnessed some of these instances.
We demand that anyone found to have directed or carried out actions to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process be held accountable and brought to court.
The United States will also take into account any possible measures, such as further visa restrictions, with regard to people thought to be responsible for or complicit in undermining Nigeria’s democratic process.
The mission did, however, applaud all political players, religious and community leaders, young people, and residents of Nigeria for rejecting and denouncing such violence and provocative rhetoric, demonstrating Nigerians’ dedication to and respect for the democratic process.
See the full statement below:
MARCH 21, 2023
On March 18, Nigeria held elections for governor and state assemblies as part of the second round of voting. The unsettling incidents of violent voter intimidation and repression that occurred during those elections in Lagos, Kano, and other states gravely disturb the United States. Members of the American diplomatic mission watched the polls in Lagos and other places and were present for some of these instances. Particularly alarming was the use of racially charged rhetoric in Lagos before, during, and after the gubernatorial election. We applaud all Nigerian political figures, religious and community leaders, young people, and individuals who made the decision to reject and denounce such violence and provocative language, reaffirming Nigerians’ dedication to and respect for the democratic process.
We demand that anyone found to have directed or carried out actions to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process be held accountable and brought to court. The United States will also take into account all options, including new visa restrictions, with regard to anybody thought to be culpable for or complicit in subverting Nigeria’s democratic process.
After the general elections on February 25, the Independent general Electoral Commission (INEC) was urged to make improvements to the voting procedures and technical components that had issues during that voting round by the United States and other international observers. Given that most results were made available on an electronic viewing platform in a timely way and that polling places often opened on schedule for the March 18 elections, there appears to have been a considerable operational improvement.
The United States reiterates its demand that any challenges to election results must follow established legal procedures and cannot be obstructed. Furthermore, we urge Nigerians to cooperate as they take part in and maintain the strong democracy that exists there.