The United States (U.S.) Department has imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians who were involved in trying to or undermined democracy in the concluded 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The department, however, did not list the names of the individuals or say how many were affected by the visa ban, but it clearly pointed out that it was for those who undermined the process.
A spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Ms Morgan Ortagus, who announced this in a statement on Tuesday, said the action applied to those responsible for election-related violence.
Ortagus said the unidentified individuals had “operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights”.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 39 persons died in violence related to the last general elections in the country.
The action, according to the spokesperson, is in fulfillment of the U.S. government’s earlier promise to consider sanctions against anti-democratic forces, including organisers of election-related violence in the country.
“In a Jan. 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.
“To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.
“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” she said.
The spokesperson emphasised that the restrictions targeted at specific individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly-elected government.
She explained that the decision reflected the Department’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government in its anti-corruption crusade and efforts to strengthen democracy, accountability and respect for human rights.
“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.
“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.
“As Nigeria marks the 20th anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.
“We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process,” the spokesperson added.
The United States has imposed visa restrictions on those believed to have undermined the democratic process throughout #Nigeria’s 2019 elections. The U.S. remains committed to working with President Buhari to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and improve respect for #HumanRights.
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 23, 2019