United States confirms widespread violence and voter suppression during the gubernatorial elections in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Kano
The United States Embassy in Nigeria, on Tuesday released a press statement saying that the gubernatorial and state assemblies election held last weekend could hardly be legitimate, after experiencing first hand, the ethnically charged atmosphere with the attendant violence and voter suppression in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Kano.
“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 statement read.
“The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos was particularly concerning.” It stressed.
“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.”
The US Embassy in Abuja the federal capital urged the Nigerian authorities to arrest and charge those responsible for the mayhem that was unleashed on voters.
“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 US Embassy also threatened visa restrictions of those accused of involvement in causing and participating in the violence.
“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.”
The Americans also said the February 25 presidential poll that saw Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was not up to the standard the electoral agency set for themselves.
” 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.” It noted that the electoral body improved on some processes due to the low voter turnout.
The American embassy also urged contestants like Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour the Lagos governorship candidate to seek legal redress and it warned Nigerian authorities against any obstruction of justice.
“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.”
Akowe with reports from Abuja