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US slams visa ban on election riggers in Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo & Ondo [update]

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The United States has placed visa restriction on selected Nigerians over the roles they played in the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the developments leading to the  Edo and Ondo States governorship elections coming up in September and October 2020 respectively.

The Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo announced the imposition of the visa restriction on the affected individuals on Monday in a statement signed by the spokesperson for the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus.

Mr. Pompeo, made the announcement despite the fact that elections are yet to be held in Edo and Ondo States due to their conduct in the run-up to the poll.

The statement reads in part:

“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.”

Pompeo noted that the decision reflects its commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria, saying:

“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 United States Government stressed that it remained a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

It also commended all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen democratic institutions and processes.

It condemned the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.

“As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections 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,” the US stated.

The Government, however, did not reveal the identities of those that have been banned.

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