Elections: UK to impose sanctions on masterminds of voter intimidation, violence

THE United Kingdom (UK) government has said it will impose sanctions on persons behind incidents of voter intimidation and violence that marred the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections in Nigeria.

This is coming a day after the United States (US) threatened to sanction perpetrators of electoral violence in a statement that said it witnessed violent voter intimidation “first-hand”.

The UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, in a statement issued on Wednesday, March 22, said: “We can confirm that we are collating relevant information, with a view to taking action against some individuals.”

Mitchell added, “Members of our observation mission personally observed violence, and voter suppression in numerous voting locations.

“We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote buying and voter intimidation, the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states, including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.

“In addition, we observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press is crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.”

The statement also condemned inflammatory speeches by some public and political figures under the guise of ethnicity and religion.

“We call on all leaders not just to distance themselves from this kind of language, but to prevent those who speak on their behalf from doing so in this way,” the statement said.

Andrew Mitchell

Mitchell applauded Nigerian voters who participated in the voting process despite being faced with intimidation and hostility

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“It is a testament to their commitment to democracy that many Nigerians were prepared to vote, despite being faced with intimidation and hostility.”

The statement urged political parties and candidates challenging the outcome of the elections to go to court.

“We will be observing the course of legal challenges made. The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians but also to Africa and the world as a whole.”



    However, the UK Mission also observed technical and operational improvement during the gubernatorial and state assembly polls

    “More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results uploaded in real-time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections,” the statement noted.

    Earlier, The ICIR reported how several election observers deployed to monitor the March 18 gubernatorial and state assembly elections across states in Nigeria suffered one form of assault or the other.

    The report identified security operatives, political thugs and a federal lawmaker as some of the perpetrators of the assaults.

    Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: [email protected]

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