The United States has flayed the use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Nigeria even as it vowed to impose visa sanctions and available actions on those who undermined the polls.
Also, it urged the Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.
In a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, by its diplomatic mission to Nigeria, the US condemned the violence that characterised the polls in Lagos, Kano and other states in the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections.
The statement read in part: “The United States is deeply troubled by the disturbing acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during those polls in Lagos, Kano and other states.
“Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.
“The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos was particularly concerning.
“We commend all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and citizens who have chosen to reject and speak out against such violence and inflammatory language, affirming Nigerians’ commitment to and respect for the democratic process.
“We call on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.
“The United States likewise will consider all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.”
According to the Embassy, following the Feb. 25 national elections, the United States joined other international observers in urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve voting processes and technical elements that experienced flaws in that voting round.
The Embassy stated that the March 18 elections appeared to have had significant operational improvements, as polling stations generally opened on time and most results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner.
“The United States renews its call for any challenges to election results to go through established legal processes, which must not be interfered with.
“We further call on Nigerians to work together as they participate in and continue to strengthen the country’s vibrant democracy.”