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March 18 Poll: US Threatens Additional Visa Restrictions Over Voter Intimidation, Suppression

• Challenges those aggrieved to go through established legal processes

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The United States has threatened to consider additional visa restrictions on individuals believed to be responsible for or complicit in voter intimidation and suppression in the March 18 election.

This is as it called on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice individuals found to have ordered or carried out such acts.

In a press statement issued on Monday and titled Nigeria’s 2023 Elections, the U.S. Mission Nigeria, while reviewing the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, held last Saturday, stated that 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”, it added.

The US commended 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.

It called 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, adding that “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.

“Following the February 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 March 18 elections appear 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 for Nigeria’s people to work together as they participate in and continue to strengthen the country’s vibrant democracy”, it said.

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