Nigerians, especially politicians, who incited ethnic suppression of voters’ civic responsibility, during the just concluded March 18 Governorship and State House of Assembly Polls, in Lagos, are not likely to go scot-free.
This is coming as the United States of America, in a statement on its website, on Tuesday, said such action would not go unpunished.
The U.S. mission in Nigeria, who noted that it was disturbed by cases of tribal-incited suppression of voters, during the election, said such acts undermine Nigeria’s democratic experience.
It added that visa bans would be imposed on political actors responsible.
One of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu’s top Media Advisers, Bayo Onanuga and the Chairman, Lagos State Parks and Garages, Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya, had publicly made some statements said to be inciting violence against Nigerians of Igbo origin in Lagos.
However, Governor Babajide SanwoOlu, after his re-election had since called for peace, promising to mend fences and thwarted ethnic relationships across the state.
The U.S. fresh statement aligns with the observations of other election observers, who had also complained about the country’s 2023 elections.
Part of the statement reads; “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.”