US slams visa ban on top Nigerian politicians

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Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State visa ban
FILE: Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State

The US Department of State on Monday slammed a visa ban on politicians and other individuals whose actions undermined Nigeria’s democratic process during the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

Also affected by the ban are those political actors involved in Saturday’s Edo State governorship election and the October 10 Ondo State governorship election.

In a statement on its website, the Department said: “The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy. We commend all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.

“We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.

“We condemn the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.”

It said: “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.”

It added: “The Department of State emphasizes 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 realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”