Ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, both the United States of America and the United Kingdom have threatened to punish anyone found guilty of either instigating violence or plotting to rig the elections.
In separate statements issued on Thursday by the Embassy of the United States and the British High Commission in Abuja, the two countries pledged their commitment to ensuring free and fair elections in the country, saying the 2019 elections “is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.”
These statements are coming on the heels of agitation among politicians and particularly former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who in his latest 16-page letter, had expressed doubt on the readiness and capability to conduct free and fair election.
According to the statements, which were made available to PREMIUM TIMES through the communications unit of the U.S. embassy, the two countries commended the political parties for signing the peace accord and urged the candidates to conduct themselves within the laws governing the elections.
The U.S. statement reads in part; “The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections. The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.
“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections. We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”
On her part, the United Kingdom promised continued support for Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards making the electoral process credible and peaceful.
The statement reads in part; “We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections.
We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm. We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission.
“Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”