As promised, the United States, on Monday made good their words with the announcement that it had taken steps to impose visa bans on persons who disrupted the recent general elections in Nigeria, with Secretary of State Antony Binken saying the United States was committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.
In a statement on the US State Department website, he said: “ 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,” though he explained that the measure was specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.
Stressing on the measure, Washington had earlier threatened to impose on the heels of the last general elections, he explained that the affected persons to be barred under US Immigration and Nationality Act, 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,” Blinken said, adding that the decision to take steps to impose visa restrictions, reflected the continued commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
PREMIUM TIMES, reports that though the US did not name the Nigerians affected by the latest visa ban some Nigerians including controversial Lagos bus transport chief, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, were caught on video threatening potential voters.
Nigeria’s most recent elections were held on 25 February and 18 March for federal and state elections respectively. The process was fraught with a number of irregularities including pockets of violence in different parts of the country.