In an effort to promote democracy and combat corruption in Nigeria, the United States has issued visa restrictions on some Nigerians who are alleged to be undermining democracy.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, said that the sanctioned individuals, whose name he did not reveal, would be ineligible for US visas.
The senior diplomat added that some relatives of those who were denied entry to the US might also face the same restriction.
He stated, ”We are committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world. Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election.
’Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.
‘’Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions. Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.’’
Blinken made it clear that neither the Nigerian people nor the government were the focus of the visa ban.
He described it as a reflection of the US government’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s aspiration to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
‘’The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria. The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law,’’ the statement said.
The news comes just two months after Rolf Olson, a political adviser at the US Embassy in Nigeria, threatened to impose visa sanctions on anyone who attempted to sabotage Nigeria’s democratic process.
Last November, Olson stated sanctions had been applied to those who had tainted the nation’s elections in the past and that this would happen again in the upcoming election while speaking at a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship alumni association conference.
He said, ‘’Even a small number of troublemakers can cause substantial havoc to an election. It takes a comprehensive effort to try to eliminate the use of violence and inflammatory rhetoric.
“Individuals seeking to undermine the democratic process, including through violence, may be found ineligible for visas to the United States. We have imposed visa restrictions in the past against those responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process, and remain fully willing to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.”