The U.S. government has imposed visa restrictions on persons deemed to have undermined Nigeria’s democracy in its general elections held earlier in the year.
“Today, I am announcing that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle,” a statement by Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said on Monday.
Mr Blinken, however, stressed that the restrictions only applied to a culpable group of individuals and not directed at the entire Nigerian citizens. The names of affected persons were withheld from the public.
“These actions are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.”
Persons believed to be masterminds behind voter suppression through intimidation, harassment or any form of violence will no longer be able to access the foreign nation per the visa restriction.
“These individuals will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy. These individuals have been involved in intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process,” the statement said.
Foreign observers from the European Union and Chatham House have said that the election result that gave President-elect Bola Tinubu his triumph was flawed and contained irregularities. Their observation will however not affect his inauguration slated for May 29 when he will take the oath of office.
His triumph is currently being contested at the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal which began hearing the matter last Monday. The suits were filed by Mr Tinubu’s major rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
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