The Federal Government has protested against the visa restrictions imposed on some “election riggers” in Nigeria by the United States.
The United States Department of States had on Monday, announced that it had imposed visa restrictions on some Nigerians involved in malpractices during the November 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States as well as in the run-up to the September and October 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States respectively.
In the same vein, the United Kingdom also threatened to impose severe sanctions such as visa restrictions on persons who undermine the country’s electoral process.
Reacting via a statement issued by Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, on Friday, the Federal Government described such actions by the US and UK as disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
It noted that such “punitive measures” by foreign governments were not needed as the nation has ample provisions in its constitution to sanction perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
While appreciating the support of international partners such as the European Union, the government urged the UK and US to cooperate with Nigeria’s relevant agencies by providing concrete evidence of electoral malpractices.
“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,” the statement said.
“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 by providing them with whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.”
Kogi state government, in an earlier letter addressed to the US Embassy in Nigeria, had also rejected the ban, describing it as unacceptable.