UK Set to Impose Visa Restrictions on Election Violators

Barely 24 hours  after the US action of  visa restrictions  for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process and organizing election-related violence the United Kingdom (UK) has announced that it would impose visa ban, carry out asset seizure, or even prosecute under international law, Nigerians involved in violence during the forthcoming Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections.

The US Government said  on Monday, September 14,  that it will  impose visa restrictions on individuals responsible for acts of violence, intimidation, and corruption during the November 2019 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

It said it will equally impose restrictions on individuals who engage in violent conduct in the yet-to-be held Edo and Ondo states governorship elections.

In a statement by spokesperson of the United States Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, the US, being a steadfast supporter of Nigeria’s  democracy, commended Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen the country’s  democratic institutions and processes.

She, however, said the US remained committed to working together with Nigeria to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both countries.

In a statement released, yesterday, by the British High Commission, Abuja, the UK took a step further as it said  it would impose restrictions on access to UK based assets for electoral offenders or prosecute them under international law.

The UK said it would  deploy observation missions to both Edo and Ondo elections and support civil society led obsevers.

It added that it took a strong stand against election-related violence and that just as it did in the general election in 2019, it would continue to take actions against individuals it identified as being responsible for violence in Nigerian elections.

“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK based assets or prosecution under international law

“The UK will continue to provide support and engagement as we move towards these elections. We urge INEC, the police and all other agencies involved to work together to deliver free, fair and credible elections.”

The UK said as a friend and partner of Nigeria, it was closely following the lead up to the off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10 respectively.

It noted that the elections were important, both as an essential element of effective governance within both states and an indicator of the strength of Nigeria’s democratic institutions.

“Our High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has held meetings with leaders of the two main political parties, APC and PDP. The discussions focused on the need for parties’ leaders to prevail on supporters to avoid violence before and after the elections, and we welcome the Edo candidates’ signature of the National Peace Committee and INEC convened peace accord today.” 

Recall tgat the United States and the United Kingdom had in January, 2019, said they would restrict electoral offenders and their families from traveling to both countries.

The UK particularly said in March, 2019, that it was reviewing the events of the 2019 election and would take action on visa restrictions accordingly.

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