LAGOS —Reliable sources within U.S. State Department and the UK foreign ministry confirmed that both the US and UK governments have threatened to impose visa restrictions and possible bans against anyone, especially politicians, found guilty of either instigating violence or plotting to rig the elections in Nigeria.
In separate proclamations last week, the two Western countries pledged their commitment to guaranteeing that the February 16 elections would be credible, free and fair.
Political observers and analyst say this threat appears to be the strongest international caution so far to Nigerian politicians.
Opinion polls and electoral surveys in the Africa’s most populous nation have often been marred by allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities as well as controversies, including allegations of vote buying and violence, and the manipulation of results.
Statistics showed that several top Nigerian politicians and well-connected individuals to several Nigerian administrations frequently travel to the US and UK for medical tourism, business or holiday. Many more have part of the families living abroad in both the UK and the US.
A cross section of Nigerians in Europe and the US hope the visa ban threat will drive home a serious warning to those who may be plotting to undermine the 2019 election.
According to a Foreign Office’s release, the British government says it will also monitor and analyze social media accounts encouraging violence during the elections.
The UK and US threat comes a week after former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo conveyed reservations on the ability of the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to oversee a credible, free, and fair election.
The larger implication is Nigerian politicians who may desire to instigate electoral trouble could face sanctions from the UK and the US in the toughest manner possible. POJ5xPP