By Stephen Gbadamosi, & Ukpono Ukpong
Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, has welcomed the recent visa ban slammed on some Nigerian leaders, saying the development will strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
Speaking with Daily Times in a telephone interview, National Publicity Secretary Yinka Odumakin said: “We commend the US for dealing with anti-democratic elements in Nigeria like Oshiomhole, Ganduje, Bello and el-Rufai.
It is a good caution to those who rig elections. It is a good step by the US to help strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
They will know that, at least, if there are no consequences within Nigeria, consequences are waiting for them in other parts of the world.”
Also commenting on the issue, a Permanent Representative of the Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity (CCDI) to the United Nation (UN), Olufemi Asuwo, said he had spoken extensively as early as 2019 on the implications of the US and other Western countries placing a travel ban of some pro-election-rigging politicians in Nigeria.
“The mere statement of a US decision to that effect was a confirmation of what we, election observers, said in our reports after the 2019 elections.
Stakeholders, especially observers like us, have knowledge of how INEC operates and how the electoral system has been working since 1999 when the country returned to civil rule.
“On account of some of the fraud we witnessed during the election, we called on the US to also punish senior INEC staff, top police and military staff found culpable in the elections.
“During the last US Independence anniversary, Femi Falana (SAN), and I were about the only activists invited to that function.
I am not saying anybody gave me names, but I know that the majority of the names on the list were APC members.”
Aduwo, who is also the President of Rights Monitoring Group (RMG), a coalition of about 45 civil society organisations, said in a message to our reporter: “I compiled the list for the US Consulate Office in Lagos after the 2019 elections and I mentioned it to that extent in that 2019 interview I referred to.
“The US Consulate Office in Lagos will never invite anybody for this occasion, unless you are a ‘Resource Person’, a Special Agent as Nigerians call it.”
Similarly, Concerned Nigerians, a human rights and pro-democracy group commended the move by the United States.
The group in a statement signed by the Convener Deji Adeyanju, said: “We want to commend the US government for their decisive action in imposing a visa ban on those who took part in manipulating and subverting the will of the people in Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
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“It is imperative to note that this visa ban will send a strong signal to those who are always available to be used by politicians to rig elections, manipulate results and perpetrate violence during elections that actions have consequences.”
The group said further: “We are also appealing to the US government to extend the visa ban to Kano government officials who manipulated the outcome of the governorship election in 2019, INEC officials and political actors planning to rig the upcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo.
“This visa ban will in no small measure help deepen our democracy and ensure transparency in our electoral process. We are also begging the US government to as well, ban corrupt government officials looting the nation’s treasury.”