The US State Department on Tuesday revealed that it has imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians it said were involved in trying to undermine democracy in presidential and parliamentary elections this year.
It explained that the affected individuals, who were not identified, operated with impunity at the expense of Nigerians and undermined democratic principles and human rights.
Those affected include individuals indicted for electoral violence, rigging and other anti-democratic activities before, during and after the 2019 elections.
The spokesman for the US Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, who disclosed this in a statement in Washington on Tuesday, explained that the visa restrictions would affect Nigerians who “sabotaged” the country’s democracy. Ortagus said:
“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy. We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.”
“As Nigeria marks the twentieth anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations. We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process.
“In a January 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.
“To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria. These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.”
The department of state also emphasised that the actions announced are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government.