The United States government on Wednesday issued a statement promising to impose a visa ban on any Nigerian who is seen to have undermined the democratic process in Nigeria.
Anthony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said that the country is committed to ensuring a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another.
Blinken statement on behalf of the US government comes as the country prepares for the February and March general elections. This statement is also a reaction to activities that could jeopardize the peaceful democratic transition. With political thuggery, the destruction of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices, political assassinations, and statements capable of wreaking havoc on the democratic system and sparking widespread debate and concern, the US government felt compelled to issue this statement.
The statement read, “We are committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world. Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election.”
Backing up this visa restriction with Section 212(a)(3)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the secretary of state added that, “these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria. Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.
“Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.”
Blinken made it clear that the visa restriction is only aimed at individuals perceived to be a threat to the country’s general elections in February and March, not the country itself.
“The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria. The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.”