FG protests US, UK over visa ban on ‘election robbers’

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The federal government has protested the visa restrictions imposed by the US as a result of malpractices during the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, had in a statement on Monday, anounced the ban, adding that actions have also been taken against some persons in the run-up to the September and October 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo.

In a related development, the UK also threatened to impose severe sanctions such as visa restrictions on persons who undermine elections in the country.

But in a statement issued on Friday by Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs, the federal government said such actions by the US and UK were disrespectful to the Nigeria’s sovereignty.

The ministry noted that such punitive measures by foreign countries were unnecessary as the government has shown commitment to ensuring credible elections, adding that there are laws providing necessary sanctions for offenders.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Nigerian government has taken note of the concerns of some of our partners, especially the U.S. and UK governments regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo States,” it read.

“They have also expressed their intentions to take punitive measures against those who decide to, in what they termed as, undermine democracy.

“It is important to highlight that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.

“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.

“The President has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during and after the elections, and supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar-led Peace Committee.

“Furthermore, it should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.

“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.

“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the EU, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and U.S. to cooperate with our relevant agencies.”

The Kogi state government, in an earlier statement, had also rejected the ban, stating that “elections in Nigeria are complex affairs which will continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future”.


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