from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) have threatened to slap sanctions on perpetrators of violence and vote rigging ahead of divisive elections in Nigeria.
Polls are set for mid-February with the atmosphere already tense amid accusations government planned electoral fraud. The suspension of Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, this past weekend added to the accusations.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) however accuses the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of plotting violence.
Tensions are mounting despite pledges by presidential aspirants signing peace pledges to peaceful polls.
The US Embassy in Abuja stated its government of President Donald Trump would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for violence or undermining the democratic process.
“Under US immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members,” the embassy stated.
The UK mission stated its election monitors would assess attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections in Nigeria.
“We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals,” the embassy stated.
It said these could include culprits’ eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK-based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.
The presidential election is seen as two-horse race between incumbent Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
Africa’s most populous country of 190 million people has a history of violent elections and military coups.
Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, Minister of Interior, said Buhari was committed to credible elections.
“This can only be possible if politicians give peace a chance by avoiding all forms of thuggery and violence in their struggle to get elected,” Dambazau said.
– CAJ News