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A rift of despair struck the atmosphere of Nigerian political space following the visa restrictions on certain Nigerians who were “responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy” in the just concluded 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
The United States of America Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, on Monday via a statement announced that the US is placing visa restrictions on some Nigerians.
He however failed to mention names but said that “these actions are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.”
However, the anonymous threat has spawned a fissure in the already embattled political space and amongst the disgruntled electorate.
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that some Nigerians who have expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of the 2023 polls and the post-election activities expressed satisfaction on the step taken by the US to promote democracy in the country.
Prompted by the Visa Restriction, Fani Kayode has accused the incumbent administration of the US of being guilty of the same crime.
In a statement made via his Twitter handle in Tuesday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain pointed fingers at the government of the US stating that it has been accused of electoral malpractices as well.
The statement reads in part, “The irony of it all is that the President whose Government has issued a visa ban on selected Nigerians for rigging has himself been accused of the most blatant and shameful election rigging in the history of their country by no less than his predecessor in office and millions of his fellow countrymen.”
“Those that have imposed a visa ban on some “selected Nigerians” for allegedly “undermining democracy” and “rigging elections” are perfectly within their rights to do so because it is their country and they can do as they please.
“We should lose no sleep over that because the Nigerian people, a great and sovereign people who belong to a great and sovereign nation, spoke loudly and clearly and made their legitmate choices during the course of a set of free, fair and credible elections which have, to the glory of God, produced a President-elect and a set of Governors-elect who will all be duly sworn-in according to law on the 29th of this month.
“Wherever any of those elections may have been rigged or democracy undermined can only be properly determined by our election tribunals and courts after all the facts and evidence have been adduced, examined and determined and not by any distant and/or partisan foreign government or power.”
He urged the Nigerian Federal Government to reciprocate the visa restrictions on nationals of other countries that may have committed the same act of undermining democracy over the past 25 years.
Fani Kayode submitted that the African Continent has become less gullible and unmoved by threats as they have found strength in God.
“It is also my view that foreign policy, which ought to be based on the principle of equality of nations and conducted on the basis of reciprocity, requires the Nigerian Federal Government to consider the possibility of doing the same to nationals of those that have implemented and announced this measure and issue a visa ban to any foreign citizen or member of any corporate entity or institution that may have indulged in undermining democracy or rigging elections in either their own or any other country in the world over the last 25 years.
“…No nation on earth, no matter how rich and powerful, can thwart the will of the God of all flesh for our people or undermine the purpose of the Lord of creation for our country. All the visa bans in the world cannot change that. (FFK).”
Those that have imposed a visa ban on some "selected Nigerians" for allegedly "undermining democracy" and "rigging elections" are perfectly within their rights to do so because it is their country and they can do as they please.
We should loose no sleep over that because the… pic.twitter.com/mxoKp9Z3id
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) May 16, 2023
Reacting to the ban, human rights activist, Rinu Oduala, wrote on Twitter, “Dear Sec Blinken, I believe other young Nigerians like me, who actively participated in the elections, refuting all notions of apathy, are glad you acknowledge the democratic process was undermined. It’s vital to discourage any attempts to subvert the people’s will. Thank you”
PLATFORM TIMES observed that some Nigerians have been speculating and recommending names for the purported visa restrictions.
A Twitter user identified as Steven_Save Nigeria Group USA @PeterObiUSA made pointers at the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, the Vice-president-elect, Kashim Shettima, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mamood Yakubu, amongst others.
The Twitter post which had garnered 1,636 retweets and 2,670 likes at the time of filing this report reads: “Breaking News 🗞️ Alert 🚨: USA 🇺🇸 VISA BAN LIST! Exclusive to @PeterObiUSA , List of Names of Election Riggers in Nigeria 🇳🇬 2023 General Election 🗳️. N/B: this are the list of names submitted by Nigerian American Coalition for Justice and Democracy (NACJD) to the State Department during the APRIL 3rd 2023, White House and US Congress Protest 🪧 in Washington DC.”
Breaking News 🗞️ Alert 🚨:
USA 🇺🇸 VISA BAN LIST!
Exclusive to @PeterObiUSA , List of Names of Election Riggers in Nigeria 🇳🇬 2023 General Election 🗳️.
N/B: this are the list of names submitted by Nigerian American Coalition for Justice and Democracy (NACJD) to the State… pic.twitter.com/8uFTs1LWtP
— Stephen_Save Nigeria Group USA🇺🇸🇳🇬 (@PeterObiUSA) May 15, 2023
Meanwhile, a source from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has affirmed that the US is valid and rational in her intention to impose the visa restrictions.
The source who spoke with PLATFORM TIMES on the condition of anonymity explained that one of the requirements to be granted a visa is evidence of well-behaviour and good conduct in the individual’s home country.
The source said, “The United States of America is regarded as a superpower country with sovereign power to rule and make an impact in the political and humanitarian affairs of other developing countries. The move by the US can be explained based on different perspectives of thought depending on the context of the argument.
“For a visa restriction to be placed on an individual, there must be certain immigration rules and regulations that have been voided. Part of the requirement of granting a visa to an individual is that such person must be a well-behaved personality and of good conduct in his or her home country.
“Constitutionally, according to the Immigration Act, the action of the United State is backed up, hence a visa restriction placed on a violent Nigerian who disrupted a poll is indeed valid and rational.” He said.
PLATFORM TIMES recalls that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other civil groups had called on international communities to restrict the movement of president muhammadu buhari, four serving governors and 54 staff member of the independent electoral commission, inec.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo ologunagba who described the president’s first comment on the 2023 presidential poll as “unfortunate, reckless, unpresidential conduct and sub judice,” alleged that the president undermined the democratic process.
Buhari had criticised the PDP and the Labour Party for relying on external backers in the concluded election which lead to the emergence of president-elect, bola tinubu.
Ologunagba therefore called for burhari’s restriction from travelling out of the country after the may 29th swearing in ceremony.
His words: “more distressing is that after superintending over the rigging of the election, president buhari, by his sub judice comments, apparently seeks to bully, blackmail and influence the judiciary and the outcome of the petition pending before the presidential election petition tribunal, so as to allow his party, the apc and its candidate to “grab, snatch and run” with the people’s mandate”, the pdp said.
“It is instructive to state that part of the electoral process is the adjudication by the presidential election petition tribunal which is considering petitions arising from the election. president buhari, by his sub judice statement, is clearly interfering in the electoral process ostensibly to influence the outcome and undermine the constitutionally laid down procedures for change of government.
“Having clearly undermined democracy in nigeria, the pdp calls on the international community to accordingly impose sanctions including visa ban and travel restrictions on president buhari and his family immediately he vacates office on may 29, 2023.” he said.
In the same vein, civil rights groups, International College for Rights and Democracy; and eastern democracy and rights coalition, called on the international community to slam visa ban on four serving nigeria governors as well as 54 officials of the independent national electoral commission, inec.
The groups claimed that the individuals had hand in compromising the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections.
”We hereby adopt with deep appreciation, the intersociety’s seven key demands listed as follows: slamming visa sanctions and other international travel, engagement and recognition restrictions on the serving governors of imo state, rivers, kaduna and ebonyi states”, the groups said.
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