Nigeria slams US, UK govts over visa ban

…as Kogi State protests inclusion

The Nigerian government said it was disrespectful to the sovereignty of the country for any foreign government to apply punitive measures such as visa ban on its citizens.

The Nigerian government made this known in a statement issued by Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday in Abuja.

Nigeria was responding to the recent announcement of the U.S. and the United Kingdom to impose visa restrictions on those who undermine electoral processes.

The Nigerian Government said it was committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.

“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.

“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,” the government said.

The government called on the partners to support security agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.

The Nigerian government also expressed solidarity with the government and people of the U.S. as regards their forthcoming election, which it hoped would be free from interference and violence.

Meanwhile, the Kogi State Government has said it protested the visa ban imposed on its officials by the United States over alleged election compromise because the various courts in the land validated the election that brought in Governor Yahaya Bello.

The US had included Kogi government officials, including the governor Yahaha Bello among those to be affected by the visa ban.

Kogi has protested the ban in a letter to the Ambassador of the United States of America signed by the Secretary to the Government of Kogi State, Mrs Folashade Arike Ayoade.

The letter is titled: “Re: Visa Restrictions On Individuals And Inclusion Of The 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections In US State Department List Of Allegedly Compromised Elections – A Letter Of Protest.”

In the letter, the governor, Bello said Kogi State Government became aware of a United States Government list of individuals who received US visa restrictions for alleged electoral malpractices through a Press Statement to that effect posted on the US Embassy website.

According to Bello, in the words of the US, the still-unnamed individuals were cited as guilty of ‘acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process’ and that they were also alleged to ‘have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.’

He said the US also noted in the statement that the sanctions were derived from unspecified misconducts by the said individuals which extended from the February/March 2019 General Elections in Nigeria through the off-cycle November 2019 gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to the yet-to-be held governorship contests in Edo and Ondo States.

He urged the US to note that for the purposes of this protest letter the Kogi government was only interested in the citations to the extent that they were referable to Kogi State and her citizens.

Bello said in the letter that for the most part, the government conceded that elections in Nigeria were complex affairs which would continue to require improvements for the foreseeable future and that the 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Election was also not without its challenges.

However, the governor said it was crystal clear from critical and composite analyses of the records (official, media, observers, etc) of the November 16, 2019 polls that regrettable incidents were limited to a few polling units, while the overwhelmingly larger portions of the ballot were free, fair and credible.

He said the political parties which alleged electoral malpractices went to court to contest the outcome of the polls and lost, as the court said the outcome of the polls were in line with the Nigerian constitution and the electoral act

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