Just five days to the Governorship election in Edo State, the United States has imposed visa restriction on some individuals for what it described as “their actions surrounding the November 2019 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and in the run-up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo state elections.”
The US, however, clarified that its actions were specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people, noting that the individuals, whose names were not mentioned, had operated with impunity and undermined democratic principles.
A statement signed by the spokesperson for the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, on Monday, said the US government’s decision reflected its commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria.
The statement said, “In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. 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.”
It added, “The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today 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 realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”
The statement said the US remained a steadfast supporter of Nigeria’s democracy, while commending Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and had worked to strengthen democratic institutions and processes.
On the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship polls, the US said, “As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections draw 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.”