Former presidential aspirant in the Nigerian 2023 general elections, Mrs. Patience Key, has commended the U.S. commitment to democratic values by imposing visa restrictions on more Nigerians allegedly undermining democracy.
The United States had on Monday imposed entry restrictions on more Nigerians for undermining the democratic process during the 2023 elections
The action is the latest in a series of visa restrictions imposed on Nigerians in recent years.
Key told the News Agency of Nigeria in New York that visa restriction would have a significant impact on the individuals and serving a larger purpose to uphold the integrity of democracy.
“The imposition of a visa ban by the U.S. on certain Nigerians who are believed to have disrupted the democratic processes during the recent 2023 elections signifies the U.S. government’s commitment to uphold democratic values worldwide.
“This action, issued by U.S. State Department Secretary Mr. Antony Blinken, is intended to discourage future instances of such behaviour and to hold accountable those individuals who threatened or undermined the electoral process.
“A visa ban, at its core, restricts the named individuals from entering the United States. This could have a significant impact on these individuals’ personal and professional lives.
“It could limit their access to international conferences, educational opportunities, business transactions, and even personal trips. In essence, it’s a limitation on their global mobility,” she said.
According to her, the decision to impose a visa ban or other sanctions is not about punishing those who acted inappropriately during the elections.
“It’s also about setting a precedent for future elections, both in Nigeria and globally.
“This sends a clear message that undemocratic practices will not be tolerated and will, indeed, have tangible consequences.
“If the elected Nigerian president was found to have encouraged such undemocratic practices, the U.S. government would face a challenging decision,” she said.
She added that it was crucial to strike a balance between upholding democratic values and maintaining cordial international relations.
“This could mean working closely with other international bodies such as the United Nations, the African Union, or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure a collective, balanced response,” said Key.
In terms of potential accusations of partiality, transparency and consistency, Key said the U.S. should ensure that any actions taken were based on factual evidence and that they were applied uniformly, regardless of the country or individuals involved.
“The process and rationale behind these decisions should also be communicated clearly to the international community to mitigate misunderstandings,” She said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, had on Monday in a statement, said the United States was committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.
“Today, I am announcing that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle,” he said.
According to him, these actions are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.
“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy,” he said.
Blinken said these individuals had been involved in intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process.
“The decision to take steps to impose visa restrictions reflects the continued commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to strengthen democracy and the rule of law,” he said.