The British High Commission, in Nigeria, has condemned the use of inciteful ethnic language by politicians, celebrities, and social media influencers, during the just concluded governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
In a statement issued on its Twitter page on Wednesday, the UK observed violence and voter suppression in numerous voting locations.
”We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote-buying and voter intimidation, the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.
”We observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press are crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.
”The UK is concerned by the use of inflammatory ethno-religious language by some public and political figures. We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way.
”It is a testament to their commitment to democracy that many Nigerians were prepared to vote despite being faced with intimidation and hostility.”
The Mission noted that the UK was prepared to take action against those, who engage in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours, and actions that include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under its human rights sanctions regime.
It also said it collated relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals.
It, however, urged any party or individual, who wishes to challenge the process or outcome of the elections to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channels.
”We will be observing the course of legal challenges made. The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, but to Africa and the world as a whole. As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development,” it added.