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US Govt Vows To Impose Visa Ban On Election Riggers, Reveals No Interest In Any Presidential Candidate

According to the person, the US Government is impressed by INEC’s commitment, evenhandedness, and attention thus far in the election cycle.

The US government has threatened lawmakers planning to meddle with democratic processes or incite violence in the 2023 general elections with repercussions, including visa restrictions.

According to media reports, the United Kingdom issued the same warning to Nigerian leaders, cautioning them against using violence to undermine the 2023 general elections.

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The US Embassy in Nigeria’s Political Counsellor, Rolf Olson, issued the warning on Monday in Abuja at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association Annual Seminar 2022 on “Promoting Electoral Integrity in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges.”

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Newsmen quoted Olson to have said “It never ceases to amaze me how often we see comments, claims, and assertions from people in social and traditional media about what our supposed objectives are in the elections, which candidate or party we favour, how to interpret certain statements or actions of ours in terms of what it means about our intentions are perceptions.

“In reality, I think it’s quite simple to interpret us, especially when it comes to the elections. We always try to be clear in our messages, so let me be clear here on several important points. The United States does not support any individual candidate or party in this election cycle (or for that matter, in any other upcoming election).

“Our interest is in supporting credible and transparent elections that reflect the will of Nigerian voters, in a process that is conducted peacefully. Full stop. Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States.

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“We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.”

Olson reiterated the government’s displeasure with the unproductive criticism leveled against INEC and its officials in recent months, which appears to have increased recently.

According to the person, the US Government is impressed by INEC’s commitment, evenhandedness, and attention thus far in the election cycle.

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He noted that, while no one should be denied the opportunity to express legitimate concerns about the process or the behavior of INEC, hyperbole criticizing INEC’s motives or general competency is counterproductive.

He advised parties, candidates, and supporters to avoid using language that attempts to “guarantee” victory, adding that there is no such thing as a true democratic election in which the outcome is predetermined.

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Olson, who applauded the deployment of BVAS in the upcoming elections, stated that one of the most important steps in conducting credible elections is confirming that the individual standing in line to vote is who they say they are.

According to him, the BVAS effectively eliminates any systematic effort to replace legitimate voters with imposters.

“It has not yet been used on a national scale, only in the off-cycle gubernatorial and other elections in the past year or so and we encourage INEC to make every effort to provide the training necessary to ensure its smooth operation on election day.

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“The other feature is the electronic transmission of results from individual polling units of the vote results sheet. In one of my most recent overseas diplomatic assignments, I witnessed firsthand the benefit of having this kind of system to help ensure that the announced results reflect the actual results.

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“The BVAS and the electronic transmission of vote results sheets are incredibly important steps forward in seeking to ensure the integrity of Nigerian elections, and we welcome both the Electoral Act’s empowerment of INEC to employ the technical and other means it deems necessary, secure, and appropriate to ensure credible elections and INEC’s willingness to do so.”

 

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