Election riggers: We don’t know names of politicians on US Visa ban list – INEC

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral body has said it doesn’t know the identity of individuals who have been slammed with visa restrictions by the United States (US), over their role in the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, the chief press secretary of INEC told The ICIR that the list containing names of those who have been sanctioned is yet to be officially released by the American government, adding that the decision of a sovereign state like the US to take such action is unquestionable.

The US embassy on Monday in a statement signed by Morgan Ortagus, the Department’s secretary, disclosed that the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on individuals who undermined the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections.

The Department of State had previously imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians responsible for organising election-related violence during the 2019 general elections.

It further condemned the acts of violence, intimidation, and corruption that characterized the elections held in November 2019, urging that the same should be avoided in the near Edo and Ondo off-cycle elections.

The Department of State emphasized that the actions were specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people, highlighting that it is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

Since the announcement, questions on those contained in the list classified as ‘election riggers’ have dominated social media platforms. However, Oyekanmi said the INEC doesn’t keep such a list because such responsibility is outside their duty.

“INEC doesn’t keep a list of election riggers. Our conducts are guided by laws contained in the Nigerian Constitution, which primarily allows us to oversee elections,” he said.

While no names have been released officially, there are whispers that Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, and Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State have both been issued visa restrictions.

On the other hand, it was gathered that Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State who had previously been slammed with a visa ban had his extended.

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It could be recalled that while the US urged for a peaceful election in 2019, El-Rufai while speaking during an NTA Live programme had said foreigners who dared to intervene in the elections would be returned to their home countries in body bags.

“We are waiting for the person that will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country. We got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible and we know the history of those countries that are trying to teach us these things. We have read their history,” the governor had said.

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