From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States has expressed deep concern over the acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that occurred during the March 18 polls in Lagos, Kano, and other states.
In a statement issued by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in Abuja, the US observed the elections and witnessed some of these incidents firsthand.
The statement read: “The United States is deeply troubled by the disturbing acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during those polls in Lagos, Kano, and other states. Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.”
The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos was also a concern for the United States.
However, the US praised all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and citizens who rejected and spoke out against violence and inflammatory language, affirming Nigerians’ commitment to the democratic process.
The US called on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.
The US also stated it would consider all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
The US reiterated its call for any challenges to election results to go through established legal processes and for Nigeria’s people to work together to strengthen the country’s vibrant democracy.
The US joined other international observers in urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve voting processes and technical elements following the February 25 national elections.
The US acknowledged significant operational improvements during the March 18 elections, as polling stations generally opened on time and most results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner.