UK threatens sanctions on Nigeria poll violators


Andrew Mitchell

from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria Bureau
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE United Kingdom (UK) has announced the possibility of imposing sanctions on culprits in the event that the Nigerian elections are not free and fair.

The West African country is scheduled to hold elections beginning this weekend with the eagerly-anticipated presidential elections.

There has been violence and counter-accusations of vote rigging.

Andrew Mitchell, Minister of State for Development and Africa, said where the UK was aware of attempts to subvert democratic processes at the national or state level, it was prepared to take action against those who engaged in or incite electoral violence and other anti-democratic conduct.

“These actions could include preventing people from obtaining UK visas or imposing sanctions under our human rights sanctions regime,” he stated.

Mitchell said Nigeria mattered to the UK, and is following the run up to these Presidential, National Assembly and Gubernatorial elections “very closely.”

Over the last two months, he has have met four of the presidential candidates and the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, where he emphasised the UK’s support for the process and commitment to a strong relationship between the two countries.

The main contenders for the presidency are, by alphabetical order, Atiku Abubakar (People’s Democratic Party), Rabiu Kwankwaso (New Nigeria National Party), Peter Obi (Labour Party) and Bola Tinubu (the ruling All Progressives Congress).

Muhammadu Buhari, president since 2015, is ineligible after serving two terms.

Over 93,4 million Nigerians are registered to vote in the country of an estimated 219 million people, the largest in Africa by population.

Mitchell said the UK continued to work closely with INEC and civil society partners to provide advisory support on electoral and legal reforms, assist in strengthening democratic institutions, and advocating for the importance of civil society engagement in electoral and democratic processes to help deliver credible elections.

“I encourage all actors in Nigeria to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and prevent violence in the periods before, during and after the elections,” the minister said.

Nigeria attained independence from UK in 1960.

– CAJ News



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