2023: US Threatens Visa Ban On Election Riggers
The United States government has threatened to sanction anyone who interferes with the democratic process or instigates violence in the 2023 Nigeria general elections.
The United States says it will impose visa sanctions on people who try to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process.
The Political Counsellor at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, Rolf Olson, gave the warning on Thursday in Abuja on behalf of the US Government at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association Annual Seminar 2022.
He also threw his weight behind the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and electronic transmission of results for the poll.
Noting that the BVAS and the electronic transmission of vote results sheets are to ensure the integrity of the elections, Olson maintained that the US had no candidate in the elections.
“When we say ‘all’ Nigerians, we mean all: politicians, candidates, students, leaders of religious, traditional, community, youth and business organisations and entities – everyone has a role to play in this effort,” he said.
“Even a small number of troublemakers can cause substantial havoc to an election. It takes a comprehensive effort to try to eliminate the use of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.
“Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States.
“We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.”
Olson said the US does not support any candidate or party in the incoming general election.
“It never ceases to amaze me how often we see comments, claims, and assertions from people on social and traditional media about what our supposed objectives are in the elections, which candidate or party we favour, how to interpret certain statements or actions of ours in terms of what it means about our intentions are perceptions,” he said.
“In reality, I think it is quite simple to interpret us, especially when it comes to the elections. We always try to be clear in our messages, so let me be clear here on several important points:
“The United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle (or for that matter, in any other upcoming election).
“Our interest is in supporting credible and transparent elections that reflect the will of Nigerian voters, in a process that is conducted peacefully.”
Recall that the US government had imposed visa restrictions on some individuals for their actions during the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa state elections and in the run-up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo state elections.
Although the US did not reveal the identities of those banned, it said the decision reflected its commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria.