Affected Nigerians who apply for visas to the U.S. would be rejected.
The American government announced on Monday, September 14, 2020 that it has imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to have engaged in electoral misconducts in the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa last November.
The restrictions were also imposed on those who behaved inappropriately in the run up to the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020, respectively.
“These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles,” a statement by the U.S. Department of State read.
Many Nigerians have clamored for a list of the affected individuals to be made public, but the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said on Wednesday, September 16, it’s impossible because the visa application process is confidential by default.
She said, “The integrity of the election process is important to the fundamental trust of compact between citizens and their government. It is fundamentally important, and that is why we are taking steps to internally identify people we believe can credibly be construed to have interfered in the process.
“The names of offenders would not be made public as US visa processes are in fact confidential, and so, we do not publish a list; we do not make public who it is that would be subjected to this sanction.
“An individual who intends to travel or apply for visa would be refused and impeded, but it is not something that we advertise.
“These individuals are those who had been involved in election processes in Nigeria, and should reflect upon that notorious behaviour in this regards which may have consequences on their ability to travel to US.”
Similar travel restrictions were imposed by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, after Nigeria’s general elections in February and March 2019.
Following the initial announcement on Monday, the United Kingdom also announced on Tuesday, September 15 that election observers will be deployed on observation missions for the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
The statement said those found to be sponsors of electoral violence could face severe sanctions.
“This could include restrictions on their eligibility to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK-based assets or prosecution under international law,” the statement read.
The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and many Nigerians have called on the European Union, and other democratic governments to adopt a similar measure to clamp down on widespread electoral malpractice in Nigeria.
Source: Pulse Nigeria