Trump administration imposes visa restrictions on Nigerians involved in election rigging and violence

The Donald Trump administration has placed travel restrictions on Nigerians “responsible for undermining the democratic process.”

Last January, the United States placed visa bans on individuals involved in electoral violence in Nigeria.

And late last year, travel restrictions were placed on individuals who were involved in corruption and electoral violence during Nigeria’s general elections between February and March 2019.

The United States Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus announced the restrictions in a statement on Monday.

Her statement listed four states where “acts of violence, intimidation or corruption harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process”.

The visas restrictions will affect some individuals who were not named.

The statement said the restrictions were not targeting Nigerian people and were the U.S. government’s attempt to help Nigeria “end corruption and strenghten democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights”.

More than 620 people died of violence during Nigeria’s 2019 elections cycle.

The general and parliamentary elections, which held between March and April 2019, were marred by violence, rigging, intimidation and vote buying.

In her statement, the State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, said the United States remains a “steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy” but violence and corruption must end.

She wrote: “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. As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections near, we urge all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner.

“In a statement on January 24, 2019, the U.S. Government said we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organizing election-related violence. 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.

“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 realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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