By David Olalekan.
The U.S. government has enforced visa restrictions on some Nigerians whom it perceived were responsible for undermining the county’s democracy through election-related violence and human rights offences during the last general elections.
The U.S. Department of State, through its spokesperson, Ms Morgan Ortagus, made the disclosure in a statement issued yesterday.
Ortagus, stated that the U.S. government was acting on its earlier announcement to impose sanctions on individuals who operate with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people.
Although, the U.S. spokesperson didn’t mention the names of the blacklisted Nigerians, she clarified that the restrictions are targeted at specific individuals and not the Nigerian people or the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said: “In a January 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.
“To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.
“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.
“The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government.
“This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.
“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.
“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.
“As Nigeria marks the 20th anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.
“We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process.”