US comes down heavily on riggers of Kogi, Bayelsa polls, imposes Visa restrictions
The United States on Monday descended heavily on some individuals who it claimed were responsible for rigging during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections in Nigeria with imposition of visa restriction.
Mike Pompeo, secretary of state in a statement said,
“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.
Pompeo pointed out that the individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles in Nigeria.
The governorship elections took place in 2019 in the two States were adjudged by observers, journalists and civil society organisations to be full of violence, voter intimidation by security forces and vote-buying.
Despite the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring winners in the elections, opposition parties rejected the results, alleging cases of rigging and unfairness by INEC.
Governors of both states were subsequently decided by Nigeria’s supreme court.
The outcome of both elections have since then caused political parties and their candidates to advocate for legislations that will make electioneering more credible and transparent in Nigeria.
Pompeo, however, noted that the visa ban was not directed at Nigerians in general but certain people that oppose peace and democratic values in the country.
“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,” Pompeo said.
“We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations. We condemn the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.”