The US government on Tuesday urged the Nigerian government to hold accountable and bring to justice persons found guilty of voter intimidation during the governorship elections.
“We call 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 embassy in Abuja said in a press statement.
The governorship elections held on Saturday 18, March 2023 were characterised by widespread violence, voter intimidation and suppression, according to media reports and election observer groups.
The US said its observers witnessed some of these uncivil acts first-hand. “Members of the U.S. diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.”
It noted that it is “deeply troubled” by the acts that took place during the polls in Lagos, Kano, and other states. It also found the use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos concerning.
“We commend all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and citizens who have chosen to reject and speak out against such violence and inflammatory language, affirming Nigerians’ commitment to and respect for the democratic process,” it added.
The US said it will explore all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
It went further to commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for improving voting processes and technical elements that experienced flaws in the presidential election.
“The March 18 elections appear to have had significant operational improvements, as polling stations generally opened on time and most results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner,” it noted.
Again, it encouraged aggrieved parties to seek redress through established legal processes, which must not be interfered with.
Governorship elections were held in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states last Saturday with winners declared in most of them.
The presidential election was held three weeks before with Bola Tinubu of the APC emerging as the president-elect. However, the runner-up and the second runner-up, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, are challenging the results of the election.