The U.S. and the U.K. may impose visa bans on Nigerians who disrupt next month’s general elections.
While not backing any of the candidates or political parties, both governments said in separate emailed statements on Thursday that they support free, fair and credible elections in Africa’s most populous country of almost 200 million people.
Individuals who encourage violence during the ballot or sabotage the democratic process may face consequences including restrictions from entering both countries for themselves and family members, according to the statements.
In a statement jointly issued by Nigeria embassies of both countries, the United States warned, “We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections. We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”
While the UK said her “monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to
encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media.” She warned that consequences for defaulters “could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election, is facing a strong challenge from Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and candidate of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party. But his government has come under intense criticism for its handling of the preparation towards the elections in February with many casting doubts about his sincerity to deliver free, fair and credible polls.
Mr. Buhari who spent much of his first tenure hospitalized in the United Kingdom will pay particular attention to the statement from the U.K. high commission in Abuja.
Read the full joint statement here.