Visa restrictions on political defaulters are measures in ending corruption, strengthening democracy, accountability – U.S Gov’t

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Story from Kenneth AFOR, Lagos

The United States Government through its Department of State in a press statement on Monday, September 14, 2020, has said that the visa restrictions it imposed on certain individuals in the country who participated in undermining Nigeria’s democratic process were all part of a move to end corruption, strengthen democracy, accountability and respect for human rights in the country.

According to the U.S Department of State Spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, it was a decision that reflects its commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise the practice of the country’s democracy.

Recall that the U.S in January 2019 said it would consider consequences on individuals who would participate in election-related violence in the February and March general elections which it did in July 2019, they have also acted in that manner in respect of the Kogi State and Bayelsa State governorship elections held in November 2019.

“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.

“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 realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights,” it stated.

It, therefore, 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 towards the conduct of the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.

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