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US imposes visa ban on election riggers in Kogi & Bayelsa; As IGP deploys 31,000 policemen for Edo election

The United States Government said on Monday that it has imposed a visa restriction on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and vows to do same to riggers in the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections.

Though the elections have not yet held in Edo and Ondo states, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, imposed the visa restriction on these individuals due to their conduct in the run-up to the poll.A statement signed by the spokesperson for the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus, on Monday revealed the visa bans.

“In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections”, it said.

“These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles,” the statement read in part.

Though the US Government did not reveal the identities of those who have been banned, it said the decision reflects its commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria.

“The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights,” the statement read.

The US said it remained a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy and commended all those Nigerians who participated in elections throughout 2019 and have worked to strengthen democratic institutions and processes.

It condemned the acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption that harmed Nigerians and undermined the democratic process.

“As the Edo and Ondo State off-cycle elections near, we urge all stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political parties, and the security services, to uphold the tenets of democracy and facilitate genuinely free and fair elections, conducted in an appropriately transparent and non-violent manner,” the US stated.Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Monday, disclosed that 31,000 personnel have been deployed for the governorship election in Edo State.

IGP Adamu disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Benin ahead of the governorship election holding on September 19.

He noted that the force was not unconscious of heightened tension and violence that had characterised political campaigns ahead of the election.

He stressed that the police remain impartial, firm, and committed to the conduct of a free, fair, and credible election in the state.

He said the stakeholders’ meeting was a platform for interaction with political actors in the governorship election with a view to charting a course for a peaceful poll.

He noted that for the first time, inter-agencies in the state had developed a code of conduct for security personnel that would be deployed for election duties.

He added that the personnel deployed would ensure adequate security and protection across the three Senatorial District as well as the 192 wards and the more than 2,000 polling units in the state.

Adamu stressed that violators of electoral laws and rules during the election would be decisively dealt with irrespective of political affiliation.

He advised parents and guardians to appeal to their children and wards to resist the temptations by politicians to engage them in violence.

He said the police and other security personnel deployed for the election have been trained to be civil in carrying out their responsibility.

Consequently, he called for cooperation from members of the public to achieve a peaceful election.

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