A visa restriction is expected to be imposed on politicians who participated in or encouraged electoral violence and other anti-democratic behavior in the Lagos, Rivers, and Enugu states during the nationwide March 18 governorship and state assembly elections, according to the United Kingdom government.
In a statement released on Wednesday and signed by Senior Communications and Public Diplomacy Officer Atinuke Akande-Alegbe, the British High Commission stated as much, adding that it is gathering pertinent data to take appropriate action against such people.
Only a day prior, the US government had warned to take “all available actions” against anyone undermining the recently ended elections in Nigeria.
It read, “We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote buying and voter intimidation the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers states.
“We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals.
“The UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, said on February 21, that the UK is prepared to take action against those who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours, and action could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime.
The British Commission commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for improved logistics during the governorship elections, particularly when compared to the presidential election three weeks ago.
“More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results uploaded in real-time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections,” the Commission stated.
However, the Commission said members of its observation mission observed violence and voter suppression in numerous voting locations on Saturday.
Condemning the harassment of journalists during the election, the Commission stressed that a free press is crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.
The statement continued, “The UK is concerned by the use of inflammatory ethnoreligious language by some public and political figures. We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way.
“We urge any party or individual who wishes to challenge the process or outcome of the elections to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channels. We will be observing the course of legal challenges made.
“The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, but to Africa and the world as a whole. As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development,” the statement added.
The British Commission, however, hailed the commitment to democracy by many Nigerians despite being faced with intimidation and hostility.
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