THE United States (US) has announced visa restrictions on some Nigerians accused of undermining democracy.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, January 25. He said the decision was aimed at advancing democracy in Nigeria.
Blinken said the sanctioned individuals, whose names he did not reveal, would be ineligible for US visas.
He also explained that some family members of those barred from the US might be subjected to the same restriction.
“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.
“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 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 US visas under this policy,” he said.
Blinken stressed that the move was in line with the US government’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s aspiration to combat corruption and strengthening democracy and the rule of law.
The US top official added that the visa restrictions announced 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,’’ he added.
The development is coming exactly a month before the 2023 presidential election scheduled for February 25.
A few days ago, the US had vowed to deny visa to anyone found fanning the embers of electoral violence in any part of the country.
The US Consul-General, Will Stevens, made the vow on Saturday, January 21, while addressing participants at a town hall meeting organised by the Niger-Delta Open Observatory (NOGO) in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Stating that the US did not have any preferred candidate in the Nigerian presidential election holding next month, Stevens said his country was only concerned about fair, free and credible polls.
Similarly, in 2019, before the general election, the US government announced visa restrictions on Nigerians who “sabotaged” the country’s democracy.
The development was announced in a statement signed by the then spokesperson of the US department of state Morgan Ortagus.