US embassy in Nigeria imposes visa restrictions to safeguard its democracy and prevent electoral violence

Earlier this week, US Embassy in Nigeria announced travel restrictions on Nigerians who were associated with the electoral violence in the February and March 2019 state elections. The US government imposed visa restrictions on the culprits in July 2019.

On Tuesday, US embassy took to Twitter to share a document containing details of the visa restrictions along with a statement which said, “Today, the Secretary of State is imposing 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.”

The embassy justified its actions as an attempt to support and protect Nigeria’s democratic process and condemn violence, corruption and any form of suppression.

The US government said it is a supporter of democracy in Nigeria, and remains committed to working “together to advance democracy and respect for human rights, and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.

The US government in its official statement, emphasising  the visa restriction

Morgan Ortagus, a US State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement announcing the restrictions on Monday that the move would affect “individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.”

She added, “We condemn the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.”

The US government had earlier urged all the parties involved in the 2019 state elections in the Edo and Ondo to strictly refrain from stirring up electoral violence, or countermining the nation’s democracy, and facilitate free and fair elections, conducted in a transparent and peaceful manner.  The statement added that the U.S Government had already warmed all the stakeholders of state elections in January 2019 that visa restrictions would be carried out on individuals responsible for sabotaging Nigerian democracy, or for inciting election-related violence. The statement read, “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. These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people, and have undermined democratic principles.” 

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