By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — Nigerians planning to visit the US will be barred from entry if officials believe they pose a threat to upcoming elections in Nigeria, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
The announcement also extends to the families of those accused of anti-democratic efforts, according to Sec’y Blinken. Nigeria’s Februray 25 elections will determine who will replace President Muhammadu Buhari, who has reached the country’s two-term limit after serving eight years in office.
“The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria. The restrictions reflect the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.”
Blinken’s order was challenged as ineffective by some users of Twitter.
“The people who are actually behind such things all have green cards or US citizenship. Until you start revoking permanent residency and citizenship of them and their families, there is no reason to take you serious,” wrote David Hundeyin on Twitter.
Two weeks before, the British government imposed a similar visa ban on Nigerian politicians involved in violence and rigging.
The vote in Nigeria comes as the country faces widespread insecurity, with the electoral commission itself targeted by recent violence.
Earlier this month (January), Nigerian police repelled attacks on election commission offices in the southeastern state of Enugu. In December, five people were killed in three attacks on offices in the southeastern state of Imo.
No details were provided by the US official as to how they would identify those who endanger the democratic polls.
Threats to the upcoming general elections were outlined by journalist Reuben Abati in This Day news.
“The biggest fear is that the current electoral process faces threats more than any other before… Yesterday in Ojota, Lagos, there was a shoot-out between members of the Oodua Progressives Congress (OPC), and the Oodua self-determination activists and Nigeria’s security agencies. Persons were killed, other were injured.
“By 9 am, concerned citizens declared Ojota a no-go area unless you would willingly take a stray bullet in your head and die just like that. In Anambra State, unidentified gun men burnt down a police station in Umuchu community in Aguata Local Government Area.
“Not enough has been done before the elections as indicated by the multiple security breaches around the country. The politicians are behaving as if the election this year is a kind of war. The last thing this country wants is any form of war.
Attacks have also been reported on candidate Peter Obi of the Labour Party after a rally in Katsina. There have been over 400 cases of election-related violence across the country,
“Tighten your seat belts,” declared Abati. “This is bound to be a tough year for us, as Nigerians. The politicians will win or lose, but they don’t seem to care enough about us. This is our sad reality.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 January 2023]
Image source: This Day
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