Election violence: CSOs urge U.S., U.K. to actualise threat on visa ban

By Taiye Agbaje and Angela Atabo

#TrackNigeria: A coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged the United States and the United Kingdom to actualise their threat to sanction any politicians whose actions undermined the Nigerian general elections.

The CSOs, under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, also called on the international community to continue to lend their voices in defence of the integrity of the results of the polls.

The Convener of the group, Mr Clement Nwankwo, made the call at a news conference on the third interim statement on the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Abuja.

The United States and the United Kingdom had warned that Nigerian politicians, who incite or execute violence during the general elections, would have their visas banned and seized.

For the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, apart from the possibility of having their assets seized in the United Kingdom, the politicians could experience a worst case scenario of prosecution.

“In particular, we urge the United States and the United Kingdom to follow through on their earlier statement that they will sanction individuals whose actions undermine the elections or have led to the death of citizens,’’ Nwankwo said.

He said in the light of the issues that emanated from the Feb. 23 elections, an independent inquiry should be set up to look into the poor management of the electoral process by INEC.

“The failure of the smart card readers in identified polling units should be interrogated with a special audit of the results of polling units where 5 per cent card reader incidence failure was recorded,” he said.

The convener also called on INEC and security agencies to ensure accountability for acts inimical to the integrity and credibility of the polls especially individuals complicit in the burning of INEC offices, election materials, snatching of ballot boxes and other electoral offences.

“Particular instances of contrived and voter suppression due to violence must be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators and their sponsors punished to the full length of the law.

“These allegations must be thoroughly investigated to restore faith in the process and address lingering social fractures that reinforce feeling of exclusion,” he said

Nwankwo also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to urgently investigate allegations into police overreach in identified locations in the country.

“We ask that such officers be held personally accountable for infringing on the rights of citizens in the exercise of their franchise.

“In the same vein, Situation Room also calls on the inspector-general of police to carry out investigations on all political actors who have instigated or perpetrated violence leading to the needless loss of lives,” he said. NAN

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