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US Imposes Visa Restrictions on Some Nigerians ahead of Edo, Ondo Polls

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

The US government has imposed additional visa restrictions on Nigerians who it said are undermining the country’s democracy in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections and their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections.

The US State Department did not name those affected but said the visa sanctions were targeted at some individuals who were involved in election violence, not the general population.

According to a statement issued September 14 by the Morgan Ortagus, Department spokesman, these individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles, .

The U.S said it is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

“We commend all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes. 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. As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections near, we urge all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner,” the statement said.

In a statement on January 24, 2019, the U.S. Government said it would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organizing election-related violence.

In July 2019, the U.S announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections.

The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people.

“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,” it said.

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