Aftermath of the March 18 governorship and State House of Assembly election that was largely characterized by organized violence, voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, the United States has said it is going to take action against the perpetrators.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria said the United States is deeply troubled by acts of violence and voter suppression that took place across the country, especially in Lagos and Kano.
The statement said the U.S. diplomatic mission observed first hand in Lagos the use of ethnically-charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election.
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The U.S. asked Nigerian authorities to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book, adding that it “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 gubernatorial election in Lagos was ethnically-charged, with Igbo residents of the state targeted with violent attacks designed to disenfranchise them. The ethnic rhetoric, which was championed by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), resulted in injury to many voters as organized thugs unleashed violence on voters perceived to be Igbo.
Like the U.S., the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria has also condemned the violence.
Read the United States statement below:
“Nigeria carried out the second round of its electoral process with gubernatorial and state assembly elections on March 18. 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.
“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.”